The Atlanta Braves came to the plate 20 times with runners in scoring position Monday against the Florida Marlins, but they still could not push across the winning run as they dropped the series opener 5-4 for their fourth straight loss.
Fresh off a 2-6 road trip, the Braves hoped that returning home could ease their clutch hitting problems, but Mike Stanton's game-winning single off Christhian Martinez in the 12th inning – when the Braves could have ended the game much earlier – was the difference in extra frames.
Before that happened though, the Braves went 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 men, including three after the ninth inning.
Atlanta battled back from two separate two-run deficits. The first time in the fifth inning was off a Freddie Freeman sacrifice fly to get Brandon Beachy off the hook. The second time got Beachy off the hook again, though it was off an RBI-single by Alex Gonzalez in the eighth.
Though Beachy was credited for four runs, he struck out 10 Marlins in 5 1/3 innings.
"We’ve got to get our bats going, we were 3-for-20. That will also turn around. But Beachy was good. He gave up another great opportunity to win a ball game," Fredi Gonzalez said.
It seemed sure the Braves would win on a Little League walk-off in the ninth with the bases loaded and Michael Bourn on third. With Brian McCann up to bat, a pitch skipped off John Buck's glove and to the backstop, but Bourn initially thought McCann had foul tipped it and stayed at third.
"I was leaning forward, but once I saw the swing, then I saw him check I leaned back. It happened so fast. I think if I would have went I would have been out. It bounced back right to him, and I didn’t have the great jump I normally would have had," Bourn said.
McCann struck out looking to end that at-bat. He also struck out in the 11th inning with Jose Constanza at second en route a 1-for-6 night. His average since he came off the disabled list is now .159.
"Any time you have a game like that where you have so many chances to win and you don’t come out on top, it’s tough," McCann said.
One batter after McCann struck out, the threat was ended when shortstop Donnie Murphy made a backhanded stop on a one-hopper to rob Martin Prado of game-winning hit.
Atlanta has now lost 11 of its last 16 and has seen its Wild Card lead over the St. Louis Cardinals shrink to 4.5 games.
The Braves will look to rooke Mike Minor (5-2, 4.32 ERA) to right the ship against Florida's Brad Hand (1-6, 3.91 ERA) at 7:10 EDT Tuesday.
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