As the Florida State war chant blared throughout SunTrust Park, Brandon Phillips and the Atlanta Braves did in the Marlins once more on Sunday afternoon.
A soft grounder through a crowded Miami infield from Phillips was the difference as the Braves beat the Marlins 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth.
In Saturday’s win over Miami, Phillips scored the tying run in the ninth and drove in the game-winning run in the 10th. A day later, he came up in the ninth with runners on the corners and one out.
Hoping for a double play or a play at the plate, manager Don Mattingly brought in outfielder Marcell Ozuna to play as a fifth infielder between first and second.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Phillips’ hit found its way between shortstop JT Riddle and second baseman Dee Gordon who was playing just off the bag. It appeared both were confused as to who should go for it and the ball harmlessly worked into the outfield.
“They caught some lucky breaks the last few days,” Gordon said. “But you also have to credit them. They had good at-bats in those situations to lead up to that. It's just the game. It's part of it. [Phillips] won the game for his team. That's the only way I can put it.”
Riddle said he should have dove for the ball but did not thinking perhaps Gordon would. Riddle said he felt had he gone to his left, Miami could have turned the double play and forced extra innings.
“It was one of those balls kind of up the middle, should have dove for it,” Riddle said. “I should have dove for it and caught it. I think we turn the double play, even if there’s a dive involved. We turn the double play. Dee’s standing on the bag.”
A day after surrendering a four-run lead, the Miami bullpen struggled again on Sunday. Although Miami led 2-0 going into the seventh, the Marlins trailed 4-2 going into the eighth.
Starter Jose Urena gave up just one hit through six and had squashed a Braves rally (of his own design) in the second.
Urena didn’t last long in the seventh as the Braves put runners on the corners. David Phelps came on and the Braves tied the score with a sacrifice fly, then a single by Johan Camargo.
After walking Phillips to load the bases, Phelps was pulled in favor of Nick Wittgren — who gave up a two-run single down the third-base line on his first pitch to Nick Markakis.
“We lost. It could have been a lot different, but it's not,” Phelps said. “It's frustrating, obviously. We took a lead into the seventh [Sunday], we took a lead into the sixth [Saturday].
“These are games, as a bullpen, we've got to do better job.”
The Marlins got two runs back in the eighth. After Christian Yelich walked, Ozuna teed off on a 1-0 pitch from Jose Ramirez and planted it in the Miami bullpen just beyond the fence in left.
It looked like Sunday would be a short start for Urena, as he loaded the bases in the second by hitting consecutive batters after giving up a single to start things off.
After setting the Braves down in the first, Urena got under Atlanta’s skin by striking Matt Adams and Suzuki in the side. Swanson sent a sharp grounder to Urena, who went home for the force and the first out.
Urena then struck out the next two batters — including starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz — to end the threat.
“After getting out of that inning he was good all day,” Mattingly said.
Miami’s second hitter in the third. While squared to bunt with J.T. Riddle at first, Urena took his first pitch way inside.
“We were fine,” Urena said. “The two-seam, there was a lot of movement.
They were mad. We're playing, man. We're playing baseball, enough with that.”
Miami broke the scoreless game in the sixth by scoring twice.
With one out, the Marlins had the bases loaded for Justin Bour, and the first baseman delivered with a two-run single that scored Dee Gordon and Yelich.
Urena made a terrific defensive play to help himself out in the sixth.
After walking Phillips, Urena made a between-the-feet snare of a drive up the middle by Markakis. Urena calmly fired to Riddle covering second to start a double play.
▪ Monday: Washington Nationals RHP Tanner Roark (6-4, 4.39 ERA) at Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (0-1, 4.15), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Tuesday: Washington Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-1, 2.89) at Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (3-7, 3.72), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.