CINCINNATI -- Not even one of the most reliable closers in the game could help the Marlins reverse their misfortunes at Great American Ball Park.
Heath Bell, in his first save chance as a Marlin, surrendered a home run to Jay Bruce and an infield RBI single to Scott Rolen on Sunday, as the Reds rallied to a 6-5 win.
The Marlins are now 5-16 in their last 21 games at Cincinnati. Sunday's loss prevented them from claiming the series, and dropped Miami to 1-3.
All afternoon, the Marlins showed spirit and drive, overcoming deficits of three runs and two runs. So watching a one-run lead slip away in the ninth was tough, as the club dropped two of three in the set.
"I'm really [ticked] off at myself," Bell said. "I came in here, they gave me a job to get the final three outs, and I didn't do it.
"I pitched yesterday, but it wasn't a save. I went out there and I didn't do my job. My job is to save the game, and I didn't do it one bit. I'm definitely going to strive to be better and not let that happen again. The whole team went out there, and we used just about everybody and they played one heck of a game."
Starter Carlos Zambrano had a gallant game, giving up four runs in six innings. Three of the runs came in a sluggish first.
"Zambrano pitched one heck of a game," Bell said. "For me to go out there and just blow it in one inning is really stupid. They don't deserve anything like that. I need to be more accountable and I need to be better than that."
Bruce, who also homered in the sixth inning, posted his 12th career multi-homer game. He had three shots in the series, including a blast on Thursday.
Off the bat, Bell didn't think Bruce's drive would leave the park.
"He got a good piece of wood on it, and just barely hit it out," Bell said. "He played to his ballpark. I didn't think it was going to be gone when he first hit it."
An All-Star with the Padres, Bell entered the season having recorded 132 saves over the past three years, the most in the Majors.
"He's one of the best closers in the game," Bruce said. "I got a pitch I could handle and put a good swing on it."
Bell entered in the ninth inning, trying to protect a 5-4 advantage. But Bruce worked a 2-1 count and laced a home run to left-center. With one out, Drew Stubbs singled off the glove of Hanley Ramirez, and he moved to third on Ryan Hanigan's single to right.
Rolen, pinch-hitting for Aroldis Chapman, delivered the game-winning hit, an infield single that Ramirez backhanded but was unable to pick cleanly to make a throw.
"I need to earn the respect from these guys," Bell said. "Last year's team, I did that early on. We're early on, and I'm 0-1. Not looking too good right now. Until I go out there and prove that I did it, I didn't do it."
Zambrano, acquired from the Cubs for Chris Volstad in early January, hadn't pitched in a big league game since last Aug. 12, when he was ejected after a tumultuous start at Atlanta.
After giving up three runs in the first on Sunday, Zambrano settled and gave up one run on two hits in his final five innings. That lone run was a home run to Bruce in the sixth.
Rather than being amped up in his first outing, Zambrano said he didn't have much fire early.
"I think I was just too calm. That wasn't me," the right-hander said. "Trying to place the pitch instead of pitching, and instead of using all of my pitches. Against a team like the Reds, a team that can hit, a good lineup, you can't come nice and easy. You have to come with your best stuff."
Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo held the Marlins in check through six innings, but Miami had a big seventh, scoring three times. Greg Dobbs was hit by a pitch on the left leg and Brett Hayes singled down the third-base line. Dobbs, who was running gingerly, was pinch-run for by Gaby Sanchez.
Dobbs said afterward that he was fine and expects to be available on Monday at Philadelphia.
Chris Coghlan delivered a pinch-hit RBI double, and Jose Reyes' groundout scored the tying run. With the infield in, Emilio Bonifacio slapped an infield RBI single, and Miami took a one-run lead.
The Marlins chipped back from three runs down with a run in the fourth inning. Miami strung together three successive singles. Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison each singled, and Stanton scored on Omar Infante's RBI hit.
On Saturday, Infante was a single shy of recording the first cycle in Marlins' history.
Aside from the end result, manager Ozzie Guillen was pleased with how the Marlins competed.
"It was a pretty good series; it could have gone either way," Guillen said. "Both teams played pretty good baseball. We have to keep it up and play like we did today, with the fire and the enthusiasm. Let's stick together. I like what I see today."