The Marlins finally ended a series losing streak and kept their faint wild-card hopes alive.
Brad Hand pitched six scoreless innings and Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in two runs as the Marlins defeated the Atlanta Braves 4-0 in the series clincher of their three-game set Sunday afternoon.
Although they had lost their previous four series, the Marlins (69-72) are 4 1/2 games behind the second NL wild-card spot. The Marlins also won the season series against Atlanta, 10-9.
“Believe it or not, we’re still hanging around,” Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee said. “The good thing is we won a series, and that just makes the next one more important.”
Hand (3-6) snapped a three-game losing streak, limiting the Braves to five hits. The left-hander struck out three and walked none.
“I was just trying to throw early strikes and get early contact,” Hand said.
Hand said he needed to match zeroes with Braves starter and Julio Teheran.
In his only moment of trouble and just after Miami had taken a 1-0 lead, Hand surrendered a single to Jason Heyward and a double to Phil Gosselin to start the sixth. But Hand retired Freddie Freeman on a comebacker to the mound, struck out Justin Upton and escaped a possible extra-base hit when left fielder Christian Yelich ran down Evan Gattis’ sinking line drive for the third out.
“You are just trying to get out of that one, especially when we just got the lead in the fifth,” Hand said. “I didn’t want anyone to score there. I beared down and was able to make some pitches.”
The Marlins chased Teheran with a three-run sixth inning. Donovan Solano’s single drove in Yelich, and Solano scored on Marcel Ozuna’s opposite-field double to right. Miami scored its third run of the inning on Saltalamacchia’s sacrifice fly that drove in McGehee.
“Teheran’s been tough on everybody all year, not just us,” McGehee said. “He was throwing the ball well early, and you kind of got the feel that it wasn’t going to take many runs to win the game.”
A two-out, run-scoring single from Saltalamacchia in the fifth drove in Garrett Jones from second and gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead. Jones reached on an opposite-field double to left.
“This time of year, when guys are on edge, every pitch is big and every inning is important,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “For us to get that [fifth inning] run was big but to then come out and put up that zero was probably more important.”
Hand retired the first 11 hitters before consecutive singles from Freeman and Upton in the fourth. But he avoided further trouble by striking out Gattis to end the inning.
Teheran (13-11) was just as dominant early. After surrendering a leadoff single to Yelich, Teheran picked off Yelich at first base and then retired the next 13 hitters until Jones’ double.
The pickoff throw that got Yelich originally was ruled safe, but the Braves successfully appealed the call. The video review showed Freeman tagged Yelich’s right hand before it touched the base.
ALVAREZ’S STATUS• Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez threw a bullpen session before the game and felt no discomfort from the left oblique strain that forced him into miss his scheduled start on Sunday. Alvarez left his previous appearance against the New York Mets on Sept. 1 after 2 1/3 innings.
“His session went well,” Redmond said. “We’ll see in the next couple of days where he’ll fit back into the rotation. I don’t have an exact date yet — maybe [Monday].”• Jones returned to the lineup after sitting out the first two games of the series. Jones was 1 for 10 in the Marlins’ homestand before Redmond opted for Justin Bour and Jeff Baker on Friday and Saturday, respective.
• With the opening of the NFL season on Sunday, football mode permeated in the Marlins’ clubhouse before the game. Reliever Chris Hatcher wore the No. 59 jersey of Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. In Marlins’ closer Steve Cishek’s locker hung a No. 12 jersey of New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady.
• Barry University president Sister Linda Bevilacqua threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Sunday’s game.
COMING UP• Monday: Marlins RHP Brad Penny (1-1, 6.61 ERA) at Milwaukee Brewers RHP Yovani Gallardo (8-8, 3.43), 8:10 p.m., Miller Park.
• Tuesday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.74) at Brewers RHP Matt Garza (7-8, 3.87), 8:10 p.m., Miller Park.