It didn't matter that their uniforms were different, the stadium was different or that the lineup was different, the early season woes continued for the Marlins Monday night with a 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
Once again, it was the bats that failed them. Shutout twice last week during a 1-5 opening home stand, the Marlins kicked off a 10-game, 11-day road trip by finishing 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The good news: Mat Latos was able to pitch his way through four innings, and Adeiny Hechavarria and Martin Prado each showed signs they might be breaking out of funks.
Hechavarria (1-for-22 to start the season) had a pair of hits, scored the Marlins first run and drove in the second with a clutch, two-out, two-strike hit off Braves closer Jason Grilli in the ninth.
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Hechavarria’s hit looked like it might save his teammates from another tough loss. But with the tying run on second base, Grilli struck out pinch-hitter Jeff Baker looking to end the game, dropping the Marlins to 1-6.
"We're going through a funk as a team and we've got to dig deep and figure out a way to get something going, sustain a rally," manager Mike Redmond said.
"It's not because of effort or work. These guys are working hard. They're putting in the time. It's just one of those things where we have to figure out a way to get guys on base and get some big hits.
"If anything, guys are probably trying too hard and that happens when guys struggle. We need a good pitching performance and we need big hits. We'll keep running guys out there until we get it and get this thing going."
Latos at least showed signs he might be on the verge of that. Shelled for seven runs in his first start as a Marlin against these very same Braves last week, Latos tossed three scoreless innings before the second rain delay of the game changed the direction of the night for the Marlins.
With Miami ahead 1-0, play was delayed for 39 minutes before the Braves came to bat in the fourth inning. When play resumed, the lead started to slip away.
Latos gave up a one-out single to Christian Bethancourt, who then stole second and advanced to third when a bad throw by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia squirted away from Dee Gordon. Hechavarria tried to make an off-balance throw to third to get Bethancourt, but it was offline. Bethancourt then scored a couple pitches later on a Latos wild pitch.
The Braves then took the lead in the fifth. A leadoff single by pinch-hitter Jace Peterson was followed by a double by Eric Young Jr. off the wall. Redmond brought in Sam Dyson, who promptly gave up run-scoring singles to Alberto Callaspo and Nick Markakis on consecutive pitches.
With the way the Marlins are hitting lately – that was more than enough offense.
"All in all everything felt fine," said Latos, who lowered his ERA from 94.50 to 17.36. "Just a crappy day to pitch. Weather, rain delay. It [stinks] having to sit down and cool off and warm-up in the bullpen again, come back out and do it all over again.
"I tried to stay warm was much as possible. I came in, immediately put my hoodie on, went into the training room, got some heat packs, trying to just keep everything warm. It [stinks]. [Braves starter Shelby Miller] had to deal with the same thing. There's no excuses with me giving up three runs."
Latos got defensive help early from Christian Yelich, who ended the second inning by robbing Cameron Maybin of what would have easily been a two-run double with a highlight reel catch on the warning track. The Gold Glove-winner made the catch on the run, fully extended before his momentum took him to the ground. The play was reviewed and the call upheld.
"At first I thought it was over my head," Yelich said. "I kind of got a good jump on it, leaped at the last second, caught it and rolled. I know I had it the whole time. I looked back and saw everybody was still kind of running. They ended up challenging it and I don't really know why. I guess a couple of our guys said my hat was on the ground and the white logo on it, they thought it was the ball. It ended up not mattering because we didn't win the game."
Redmond, hoping to get the Marlins sluggish offense going, flip-flopped his usual No. 4 and No. 5 hitters -- first baseman Mike Morse and third baseman Martin Prado.
Prado, 4-for-20 during the opening homestand, singled in the sixth and the doubled to open the ninth inning. He scored on Hechavarria's single to left.
"You have to remember this is a marathon. We're not going to win anything in April or May," Latos said. "We're healthy, it's just a matter of putting things together. Guys are struggling. We know it's going to happen. It's a long season. It will turn around. We got great guys. We got great talent. We just have to fight through it and stick together."
▪ The Marlins wore their alternative gray jerseys in a game for the first time since Sept. 25, 2012.
▪ Monday’s game was delayed 52 minutes prior its scheduled start by rain. In all, Monday’s game was delayed 1 hour, 31 minutes.