Yankees manager Aaron Boone relieves pitcher Clay Holmes during the...

Yankees manager Aaron Boone relieves pitcher Clay Holmes during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in Miami.  Credit: AP/Marta Lavandier

MIAMI — Aaron Boone’s oft-used “gut punch” phrase to describe this kind of loss didn’t quite cover it for a team desperate for wins.

Not even close.

A game the Yankees seemingly had in hand throughout the afternoon blew up spectacularly in a nightmare of a ninth inning Sunday afternoon.

After building a six-run lead, the Yankees still led by four going into the home half of the ninth, but Clay Holmes allowed a two-run triple by Luis Arraez on an 0-and-2 pitch and committed a critical throwing error in a brutal 8-7 loss to the Marlins in front of 35,043 at loanDepot park.

Miami won it on Jake Burger’s one-out single off Tommy Kahnle.

“Obviously, we need victories, so any time you lose, it’s tough,” Boone said. “But when you have the day in control for the most part, a lot of good things happened out there . . . difficult way to end the series, but we have to move on.”

The Yankees (60-58) fell five games out of the American League’s third wild-card spot. They now head to Atlanta for three games against the team with MLB’s best record.

“You’ve got to move forward,” Aaron Judge said. “This one [stinks] right here, especially with the lead we had and the at-bats we had, but we have to show up tomorrow.”

Helped by a two-run homer by Anthony Volpe, a solo shot by Ben Rortvedt and four of their five stolen bases (three by Gleyber Torres), the Yankees took a 7-1 lead in the top of the sixth.

They brought in Holmes — who had given up three runs in 34 2⁄3 innings since May 6 — to start the ninth with a 7-3 lead, and he quickly made a mess of things.

Yuli Gurriel led off with a double to center on a 1-and-2 slider. Holmes struck out Jon Berti, but Nick Fortes reached on an infield single and Jazz Chisholm Jr. walked to load the bases.

Josh Bell hit a comebacker that Boone felt Volpe likely would have turned into a game-ending double play, but Holmes instinctively reached for it and couldn’t handle it cleanly. He then rushed his throw to first for an error, and two runs scored on the play to make it 7-5.

“I think it was hit hard enough where I probably could have let it go, but I felt like it was one of those things where I didn’t want it to deflect off of me, so I tried to make a play with my glove and couldn’t get it there,” Holmes said. “But if I [field it] clean, I can probably go home there and maybe can turn two. Definitely a big momentum change.”

Arraez then grounded a two-run triple past first baseman Jake Bauers and down the rightfield line to tie it at 7-7.

With the Yankees employing five infielders, Kahnle walked Bryan De La Cruz, who took second on defensive indifference. Boone said he didn’t consider intentionally walking Burger to load the bases with one out, and he lasered a 2-and-1 changeup to left for his third hit of the game to win it. He went 7-for-12 with four RBIs in the series.

The Yankees wasted a solid start by Gerrit Cole, who allowed two runs, six hits and two walks in six innings in his 100th career start as a Yankee. He struck out six.

He outpitched hyped 6-8 righthander Eury Perez, 20, who came in 5-4 with a 2.79 ERA but allowed four runs, four hits and two walks in four innings.

The most significant of those hits was Volpe’s 16th homer, a two-run shot in the fourth that gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead. Rortvedt’s first homer as a Yankee made it 7-1 in the sixth.

Torres stole two of his career-high three bases in the fifth, reaching third with one out and scoring on a wild pitch.

Burger’s RBI single off Cole in the bottom of the sixth made it 7-2, and the Marlins’ slow march toward an improbable victory was on.

“Every game matters right now and every loss matters, especially one like this,” Holmes said. “A series we kind of needed to have. It’s a tough loss.”

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