MIAMI -- For much of Sunday afternoon, Nathan Eovaldi was dominant and not in a giving mood. But with little margin for error, one miscue is all it took to ruin what was shaping up as another rewarding day for Miami.
Instead of the Marlins closing out a sweep, it was the Padres' Alexi Amarista celebrating his 25th birthday in grand style.
Amarista's pinch-hit three-run homer off Eovaldi in the seventh inning rallied San Diego to a 4-2 win over Miami at Marlins Park.
"I definitely didn't see that coming," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "I thought Eovaldi pitched a great game. He deserved better than that. Sometimes that's the way it goes."
Eovaldi was protecting a 1-0 lead when he was victimized by the long ball on a day he matched his career high with eight strikeouts. Marlins pitchers had held the Padres scoreless for 18 straight innings before Amarista delivered his drive into the right-field seats.
One of the hardest-throwing starters in the National League, Eovaldi was blazing in 97-mph heaters, even into the seventh inning. But it was an 84-mph slider that cost him a chance for his second win in six days.
"I've faced him in the past," Eovaldi said. "I know he has power and everything. It was a pitch down and in. You've got to tip your cap. Tough one."
Ian Kennedy gave up one run in six innings with five strikeouts, collecting the win for San Diego.
Despite the loss, the Marlins finished up an impressive season-opening homestand at 5-2. After playing for seven straight days, the Marlins are off on Monday before facing Washington on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.
"All together as a team, everybody pitched well," Eovaldi said. "Hopefully we'll take it into the road series. Everybody is hitting the ball. Keep rolling with it. Even after I came out of that inning, we put together some good at-bats and scored another run. That's all you can ask for."
Miami clung to a one-run lead heading into the seventh inning, and Eovaldi gave no indications he would surrender the lead. The right-hander even fanned Yonder Alonso to open the frame.
But momentum turned in San Diego's favor when Will Venable got the inning going with an infield single. Tommy Medica singled sharply, putting runners on first and second. Yasmani Grandal grounded out to the mound, putting two runners in scoring position for Amarista.
Batting for Kennedy, Amarista strung together a nine-pitch at-bat. He fouled off four straight two-strike pitches. With the count at 2-2, Eovaldi went with a slider, and Amarista didn't miss it.
"I think we needed to put a left-hand bat on him [Eovaldi]," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Our righties had a really tough time against him today. [Amarista] fought off some pitches. That was a good at-bat. Eovaldi has good stuff. It was tough. We didn't hit too many balls hard off him."
As they've done all series, the Marlins scratched back. Jarrod Saltalamacchia lofted a two-out single in the seventh off lefty Alex Torres, and Jeff Baker's pinch-hit RBI double narrowed the Padres' lead to one run.
"I think it was one pitch that Eovaldi would want back," Baker said. "Other than that, we played a good ballgame.
"We're playing good baseball. We're right where we want to be. Keep moving forward, keep plugging. Let the momentum roll and ride it out."
San Diego regained a two-run edge in the eighth on Alonso's sacrifice fly off Dan Jennings. The run was unearned after Saltalamacchia's throwing error on Chris Denorfia's stolen-base attempt allowed Denorfia to reach third.
The Marlins snapped a scoreless deadlock in the fourth inning on Christian Yelich's triple and Giancarlo Stanton's RBI single to left. Stanton's soft liner had just enough to get over the head of shortstop Everth Cabrera.
Both hits came with the count full and at a time the Marlins were able to build up Kennedy's pitch count.
Stanton continued his torrid start. The slugger entered the game tied with Arizona's Mark Trumbo for the MLB lead in RBIs with 11. With 12 on the season, Stanton already has surpassed his RBI total for April 2013, when he drove in nine runs for the entire month.
"We're trying to win every single ballgame, that's for sure," Redmond said. "Give their guy credit. He held us down. It's just one of those games where I thought Eovaldi pitched so well to win. To get beat by a pinch-hit three-run homer, you don't see that every day. You've got to tip your cap sometimes."