The Atlanta Braves used three-run innings in the first two frames to best the Miami Marlins in a 6-1 ballgame that also brought their homestand record to 6-1 Thursday at Turner Field. The win, which occurred after sitting through a rain delay, was their eighth in nine games.
The Braves pelted Nathan Eovaldi, who came to the Marlins in the Hanley Ramirez trade, sending 16 batters to the plate in two innings. Jason Heyward picked up two singles, Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman each had two-run doubles and Dan Uggla even had an RBI-single.
Atlanta's offense was enough to end Eovaldi's day after two innings, and Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen blamed a lack of performance with his off-speed pitches.
"With the hitting club they have, they aren't missing too many fastballs," Guillen said on mlb.com. "He was behind. His changeup was bad. His breaking ball was bad. To have a good game, especially against them — they swing the bats very well — your breaking ball has to work."
The score very easily could have been worse than what it was. The Braves left the bases loaded in the first inning when Eovaldi struck out Mike Minor to end the inning. Eovaldi's struggles rolled over into the second as he allowed the first three batters to reach and Freddie Freeman set the Braves' lead at six with his two-run double.
"We got out early," Jones said. "He wasn't getting many of his secondary pitches over. He wasn't getting many swings and misses with them. So it allowed us to be able to get fastballs in good counts, and we didn't miss them the first couple innings."
The unfortunate part of the game, at least for Minor, was that rain started in the second inning, eventually getting so bad to cause a rain delay in the fourth. The delay cut Minor's outing to 3 2/3 innings, during which he gave up two hits and snapping his quality start streak at four.
Fredi Gonzalez said he probably would have left Minor in if he were older, but he wanted to preserve his arm for the future.
"It wasn't worth it," Gonzalez said. "If he was 32 and you didn't have to worry about the arm or the next start, then you could try to get a feel for it and say go ahead and go another inning and [one-third] more."
Christhian Martinez threw three innings and gave up the Marlins' only run on a Carlos Lee sacrifice fly that followed a triple by Jose Reyes in the sixth inning. He was followed by Chad Durbin, Cory Gearrin and Craig Kimbrel as the bullpen threw the final 5 1/3 innings. The bullpen pitched a total of 16 2/3 innings in the four-game series.
During their homestand, the Braves have already swept the Philadelphia Phillies and taken three out of four from the Marlins. The final three games start Friday against the Houston Astros, who have lost 25 of their last 28 games.
Atlanta will look to take advantage of the sub-par Astros to gain ground on the Washington Nationals, who are a scant 2.5 games in front in the NL East.
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