The Marlins got another superb start from Tom Koehler, Mike Redmond won his third replay challenge in a row, and Derek Dietrich handed Braves All-Star closer Craig Kimbel his first blown save of the season.
On a night when everything appeared to align for the Marlins to end their worst road start in franchise history, the first-place Braves still found a way to beat them.
Evan Gattis’ two-run home run off Arquimedes Caminero — on a 95-mph fastball with nobody out in the 10th inning — lifted Atlanta to a 4-2 victory in front of 16,055 fans at Turner Field.
The Marlins (9-11) fell to 0-7 away from Marlins Park. But they had golden opportunities to take this one, including in the ninth against Kimbrel.
“If we’re going to win games on the road, we have to take advantage of opportunities and we didn’t do that [Monday],” Redmond said. “That’s too bad because we really should have won that game.”
In the end, a base-running gaffe might have done the Marlins in. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Dietrich launched a line drive into the gap in left-center field.
Reed Johnson, the Marlins’ runner on second, appeared to read the ball poorly off the bat and ran back toward second base. Adeiny Hechavarria, running hard from first, had to slow down to make sure he wouldn’t pass Johnson, who eventually scored easily. But the play forced Hechavarria to slow down and stay at third.
Kimbrel responded by striking out Jeff Baker, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna in order to prevent the Marlins from taking the lead.
“I feel terrible. Cost us the game right there,” Johnson said. “If we score a run, we’re in a totally different situation. [Steve] Cishek comes in and it’s probably game over. Just did not get a good read.
“I knew the outfield was playing deep in that situation, ball goes off the bat and the same time I look pretty silly if I don’t tag up and advance in that situation as well. That’s kind of what I was more concerned with.
“But if I had to do it over again obviously I would just take off in that situation. And Hech probably gets sent right there. Maybe he doesn’t.”
The Marlins, who finished 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position, had a chance to score in the eighth inning, too. They loaded the bases with one out when Redmond challenged and won what turned out to be a Dan Uggla bobble at second base that invoked the new transfer rule from glove to hand. But reliever Jordan Walden struck out Casey McGehee looking, and then ended the inning when he got Garrett Jones to ground out to second.
The Marlins came into Monday’s game fifth in baseball in runs scored (94). But they’ve scored just 20 runs total on the road thus far — less than three a game.
Jones gave the Marlins an early 1-0 lead in the second when he belted his third home run of the season just over the wall in right off Braves starter Julio Teheran. For a while, it looked like it might be enough as Koehler cruised through the first four innings with seven strikeouts and his defense shined behind him.
But Andrelton Simmons homered off Koehler in the fifth and had two of the five hits the Braves (13-6) collected on the Marlins’ No. 5 starter.
It ruined an otherwise stellar performance by Koehler, who matched a career high with eight strikeouts and equaled Kevin Brown for the best start to a season by a Marlins starting pitcher.
As Brown did in 1997, Koehler has now started the 2014 season by pitching at least six innings and allowing two runs or less in each of his first four starts.
“He made the one hanging breaking ball to Simmons there [in the fifth inning], but other than that he gave us exactly what we needed,” Redmond said of Koehler, who pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs and five hits. “We needed a good start. He gave us that. It’s a shame we couldn’t get him the win.”
Simmons sparked the Braves’ seventh-inning rally with a line drive back through the box. When pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit singled to right to put runners on the corners, it set the stage for Jason Heyward’s go-ahead RBI single off reliever Mike Dunn.
“Every loss is a tough loss. It’s a game I definitely would have liked to have especially against a division rival,” Koehler said. “Sometimes things happen like that.
“We wake up and get them [Tuesday].”
He also stole second base in the eighth inning, setting the franchise-record for the most consecutive steals to start a career (14 of 14).