Pitching has been one of the bright spots for the Marlins in a season of gloom.
On Sunday, though, it was their downfall.
The Braves spanked the Marlins in a 9-4 victory at Turner Field, pounding out a dozen hits, five for extra bases. It was the most runs allowed by the Marlins since an 11-3 loss to the Braves on July 2.
And it wasn’t just starter Henderson Alvarez who bore the brunt of the whipping. The Marlins’ bullpen was also tagged by the Braves, who brushed off a 1-0 loss the night before — a loss that ended their 14-game winning streak — with a bounce-back statement.
“Whenever a team’s on a roll like that, everything seems to go their way, and they take advantage of mistakes,” said reliever A.J. Ramos, who was on the mound for part of the Braves’ four-run uprising in the seventh.
Ramos said he made a mistake with his location on a pitch to B.J. Upton in the seventh, a pitch that turned into a sacrifice fly that broke a 4-4 tie and put the Braves on top for good.
Alvarez said he was at fault for a mistake pitch to Freddie Freeman in the fifth, which resulted in a score-tying three-run home run that put a charge in the crowd of 32,881. The home run was the first allowed by Alvarez in eight starts this season.
“The game got away on that pitch,” Alvarez said. “I wanted to throw a fastball in and it stayed middle-middle. He got his hands out and hit the ball well.”
The Marlins have started the road trip with five losses in their first six games. And on Sunday, as in three of the others in Pittsburgh, they had an early lead they couldn’t make stick.
Alvarez drove in a pair of runs off Braves starter Mike Minor with a two-out double in the second that gave the Marlins a 3-0 lead. By the fifth, when Freeman tagged his 3-1 pitch for a home run, it had vanished.
The Marlins tied it 4-4 in the sixth on an Ed Lucas sacrifice fly.
But the Braves erupted in the seventh for four runs off Dan Jennings and Ramos and added one more in the eighth off Steven Ames.
“Usually the starters have been good, or the relievers have been good, or both,” Ramos said. “But [Sunday] we got runs and, for whatever reason, we didn’t execute. It’s pretty rare.”
Said Marlins manager Mike Redmond: “That seventh inning, we couldn’t stop ’em. As you can see, they can do some damage with the middle of their order. We couldn’t shut ’em down after scoring.”
It wasn’t all the pitcher’s fault in the seventh.
Giancarlo Stanton lost Chris Johnson’s fly ball in the sun, and it landed behind him for a two-run double. Right field in day games at Turner Field has always been a tough one, and Sunday was no different.
“It was bad today,” Stanton said of the sun, which also contributed to a Braves misplay in the second when Koyie Hill’s catchable blooper dropped in between Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward. One batter later, Alvarez drilled a liner over Justin Upton’s head in left for a two-run double.
Sunday’s loss was also another case of the Marlins being unable to take a lead and add to it with more scoring later in the game. The Marlins managed only two hits after the second inning.
“If we could find a way to add on some runs, it definitely would take a lot of pressure off our pitching,” Redmond said. “We put so much pressure on those guys to be perfect and against good teams and good lineups, it’s tough to be perfect and they’re not going to be perfect.”