MIAMI -- A chance for the Marlins' first walk-off win since July 13 turned into an unimaginable caught-in-a-pickle loss.
In a bizarre finish, Jake Marisnick was tagged out in a rundown between second and third in the ninth inning on Tuesday night, preserving a 4-3 Atlanta victory over Miami before a baffled 19,095 at Marlins Park.
"That kind of sums up how we're going right now," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of the team's four-game losing streak.
The Marlins had a chance to tie the score in the ninth, but were thwarted on an unusual final out. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel issued a one-out double to Placido Polanco, and Marisnick entered to pinch-run.
Kimbrel threw a slider in the dirt to Ed Lucas, and the ball went through catcher Brian McCann and to the backstop. Marisnick broke for third, but the ball deflected perfectly back to McCann.
Trapped halfway, Marisnick was thrown out in a 2-5-4 rundown to end the game, giving Kimbrel his 46th save.
"It's a rough one," Lucas said. "It's kind of find-new-ways-to-lose style. Tough bounce right there. You can't really fault anyone there. He's going to try to be aggressive right there."
Marisnick was caught in a perfect storm for Atlanta. After being tagged by second baseman Dan Uggla, the Miami rookie used two hands to smack his helmet to the ground in disgust.
"You could say, 'Oh, you're in scoring position,' " Lucas said. "But you can't really predict something like that."
On the pitch, Lucas was looking fastball, and he stayed off the slider.
"It was kind of a dirty slider that was in the dirt," Lucas said. "It got away from Mac. I can't believe it bounced back to him like that. It couldn't have been any more perfect. It was like a fastball right down the middle, off the wall.
"I'm like, 'Now, he's on third, if he throws another one, the run scores.' Before I even knew what was happening, Mac was throwing to third. We were in a pickle."
Like they had all night, the Braves executed when they had to.
"It's not an easy play," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "[McCann] is all the way to the backstop. He's got to throw the ball to third base. You don't practice that play."
For most of the night, the Marlins were playing catchup.
Tom Koehler scratched out five innings on Tuesday night, but the right-hander was tagged for four runs that Miami was unable to overcome.
Julio Teheran yielded three runs in 6 1/3 innings, while Evan Gattis drove in two runs to lift Atlanta.
Koehler snapped a string of three straight games in which Miami's starter did not work more than four innings. But he also let a first-inning lead slip away.
"We're in a funk, pitching-wise," Redmond said. "We're having a struggle to get through four innings, five innings. Not to take anything away from the Braves. They've got a great team and that's a tough team to pitch to, especially with as many time as we've played them now. But we've got to do a better job of eliminating runs early to give ourselves a chance."
Miami has dropped four straight, and the Braves' magic number to clinch the National League East was trimmed to seven.
The Braves have taken the first two of the four-game set. Miami looks to get on track on Wednesday, sending rookie phenom Jose Fernandez to the mound against Mike Minor.
Koehler got into two-out trouble in the first inning, surrendering three straight hits that gave Atlanta an immediate two-run lead. Freddie Freeman started things with a single, then scored on Gattis' double. McCann added an RBI double for a 2-0 lead.
Miami's deficit didn't last long as the Marlins countered with a three-run first off Teheran.
Lucas singled with one out and Christian Yelich walked. Giancarlo Stanton, back in the lineup after sitting out two games with a sore right ankle, blistered an RBI double to left. Logan Morrison's floater into center dropped from an RBI single.
Stanton gave Miami a 3-2 lead when he scored on Donovan Solano's fielder's choice grounder.
Miami threatened in the seventh inning, loading the bases with two outs for Stanton. Chris Coghlan walked, and Lucas singled to left, ending Teheran's night after 111 pitches. Lefty Luis Avilan pegged Yelich with a pitch on a 2-2 count, bringing up Stanton. Luis Ayala relieved Avilan and struck Stanton out on three pitches, getting the slugger to swing through a sinker.
In the third inning, the Braves reclaimed the lead, scoring twice on four hits. Again, Atlanta was able to string together hits, opening the inning with three consecutive singles.
Justin Upton and Freeman singled, and Upton scored on Gattis' RBI hit. With one out, Chris Johnson added a run-scoring single, putting the Braves on top, 4-3.
"You've got to try to minimize those guys," Koehler said. "Those are some big RBI guys. If it's a little bit extra focus, or whatever it takes. You've really got to work on trying to get those guys out or holding them. They were able to hit some balls in the game with guys on, and kind of just three or four hits in a row got them going."