video thumbnail

ATL@MIA: Brantly's sac fly puts Marlins on the board

MIAMI -- Starting pitching continues to be a strength, which makes the Marlins' struggles so frustrating.

For Miami, it was more of the same on Tuesday night.

Wade LeBlanc gave up two runs in six innings, but the Braves were able to prevail, 3-2, in front of 14,222 at Marlins Park.

The big mistake LeBlanc made proved to be the difference. Evan Gattis connected for a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning, and it held up thanks to Braves starter Kris Medlen.

Medlen yielded just one unearned run on three hits in seven innings.

At 1-7, the Marlins are off to the second-worst start in franchise history, topped only by the 1-11 start by the 1998 club.

The losing is beginning to wear on this youthful team that is searching for positives to build upon.

"The longer this thing goes like this, guys are getting frustrated," first-year manager Mike Redmond said. "They're getting tired of getting out. They're getting tired of losing ballgames. They've just got to keep at it. We're going to hit. Don't panic. We just need that one big hit from one of these guys, any of them, and get this thing turned around, and get that good feeling back."

Justin Upton, 0-for-3 off LeBlanc, delivered an RBI double off A.J. Ramos in the eighth.

In the first two games of the series, the Braves have scored five runs total. Yet they have clinched the three-game series while sending Miami to its fourth straight loss.

Offensively, the Marlins have not been able to generate much of anything. They have two runs in the series.

On the plus side, the starting pitching has performed. Miami's pitchers entered Tuesday with a 2.50 ERA, which is third in the National League and fourth in the Majors. After LeBlanc's outing, the starters' ERA raised a hair to 2.56, and they now have a 1-5 record.

"That's basically the goal of the starting pitcher, giving your team a chance to win," said LeBlanc, who has a 1.98 career ERA in six April starts. "Unfortunately, you run into a guy like Medlen. You've got to keep the game closer than that, especially the first inning."

Looking to shake things up, Redmond changed his lineup a bit. Placido Polanco moved from hitting second to cleanup, getting the nod behind Giancarlo Stanton. Polanco hit an RBI single in the eighth to bring the Marlins within one.

The 37-year-old Polanco is a prototypical second hitter, but because of his professional approach and ability to hit in any situation, Redmond has turned to him to offer protection in case teams pitch around Stanton.

The Braves did just that in the eighth inning, intentionally walking Stanton. Not looking to do too much, Polanco took an opposite-field approach and swatted the run-scoring single to right.

"He's a guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark and tie the game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Polanco could do it. But the chances are that he might hit a single or a double. I didn't like [walking Stanton]. But you've got to pick your poison a little bit. Knowing that (Greg) Dobbs was behind Polanco with (Eric) O'Flaherty on the mound, that gave you a little comfort he would get the lefty."

Miami had a chance in the ninth inning off closer Craig Kimbrel, who walked Donovan Solano to open the inning. But Rob Brantly's sacrifice bunt attempt was popped to third base, and Atlanta doubled up Solano at first base for a double play.

"When you're not winning, you get frustrated," Polanco said. "We're all here, obviously, for the same purpose, which is winning games. We're not doing it right now.

"We've got to put a couple of hits together and start scoring runs. I mean, we're close. We're not getting blown out. It's by one or two runs. That means pitching and defense has been there. It's a matter of getting the key hits."

Having Polanco hitting fourth enabled Redmond to set up alternating right-handed and left-handed hitters from the middle to the bottom of the order.

In the second inning, the Marlins snapped a streak of 15 scoreless innings. They pushed across an unearned run on Brantly's sacrifice fly. Miami capitalized on a mistake when Atlanta's B.J. Upton dropped Dobbs' fly ball to center. Dobbs ended up on second, and an infield single by Solano put runners on the corners with no outs.

Brantly brought Dobbs home with his fly ball to center.

"The Marlins are a quality team," Medlen said. "They have some guys that own me. Polanco owns me. Any time I can get him out, it's a success for me. You see the uniform over there and you know you just have to mix some pitches and execute some pitches. That's kind of what happens. You take it a start at a time. I could get absolutely shelled the next time we play them."

MLB.com Comments