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Marlins reach two-million milestone at gate but fall again, this time to Braves

The Marlins topped the two-million mark in season attendance on Monday for only the third time in franchise history.

But the Marlins didn’t celebrate the milestone with a victory.

And the final figure for the first year in their new ballpark will fall short of expectations. Internally, team officials were projecting close to 2.7 million fans, or about 500,000 more than what the end tally is expected to show.

Instead, the rebranded Miami Marlins will settle for the largest season total since 1997 when they logged attendance of 2.3million.

Losing contributed to the turnouts, and the last-place Marlins provided more evidence of that on Monday when they dropped a 7-5 decision to Atlanta.

Former Marlin Dan Uggla, who was benched for underperformance just over a week ago before working his way back into the lineup, belted a three-run home run off Wade LeBlanc in the Braves’ four-run first inning.

“That was just a mistake,” LeBlanc said. “Tried to go away, left it middle, and to a hitter like that, you can’t afford to do that. Other than Uggla, it was just one of those nights.”

Said manager Ozzie Guillen: “He made one bad pitch, and he paid for it.”

Atlanta went ahead 6-0 in the fourth.

But the Marlins rallied for four runs in the bottom of the inning against Tim Hudson, who has long given them trouble.

The Marlins used the ballpark’s spacious dimensions to their favor, with Bryan Petersen and Gorkys Hernandez driving in three of the four runs with back-to-back triples.

Hernandez, who was once regarded as a top prospect in the Braves’ farm system before winding up with the Pirates and traded to the Marlins, brought a .157 average into the series opener. But he raised it with a single in his first at-bat, a double in his second and a triple in his third.

That put him in position to attempt a rare “natural” cycle in which the batter singles, doubles, triples and homers — in that order. It has been accomplished just 14 times in major-league history, making it rarer than a perfect game.

But Hernandez, who had hit only two homers in 102 career major-league at-bats entering Monday, struck out in his fourth trip to the plate. No Marlin has ever hit for a cycle of any kind.

“Very nice surprise,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of Hernandez.

The Marlins still came up with a run in the seventh, however, to trim Atlanta’s lead to 6-5. After Hernandez struck out, Jose Reyes doubled into the right-field corner and Carlos Lee followed with an RBI single. Lee began the night with a .347 average with runners in scoring position since joining the Marlins in July.

“We made it interesting,” Guillen said. “We battled, and we made the game pretty fun.”

The Braves added an insurance run in the eighth on Martin Prado’s RBI single off Ryan Webb to make it 7-5. Prado had four singles in his four at-bats, and he also drove in a pair of runs.

The Marlins tallied 14 hits, and five players had at least two hits each.

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