It was all going so....perfectly for the Marlins bullpen.
But it didn’t turn out that way.
After five Marlins relievers had retired 24 straight Atlanta batters, the bottom fell out on the sixth as the Braves erupted late for a runaway 7-1 victory in 14 innings.
Justin Upton lashed a two-run double off Chris Hatcher to break a 1-1 logjam and the Braves cemented the victory by adding four more runs to survive a protracted pitchers battle between the two bullpens.
It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Marlins, who also fell to 0-13 on the season when the roof has been open at Marlins Park. Well, it was open for the first seven innings.
By the time Monday’s game got around to ending, it had been closed due to rain in the area.
Those that hung around saw the Marlins set a team bullpen record for consecutive batters retired: 24. The previous record of 18 was set during the 2005 season.
Not a single Atlanta batter reached base from Jason Heyward’s leadoff triple in the sixth inning to Reed Johnson’s leadoff walk in the 14th.
But that drought-ending base runner proved to be the difference.
Hatcher, who was called up Sunday from Triple A New Orleans to fill Ricky Nolasco’s roster spot, issued walks to two of the first three batters he faced before Upton laced a double into the left-field corner.
The Braves piled it on after that, with two fielding errors contributing to the onslaught.
Hatcher’s bad fortune continued afterward when he was optioned back to New Orleans.
“We need arms,” manager Mike Redmond said after using every pitcher in the pen except for A.J. Ramos. “We’re trying to figure out who that will be right now.”
Kevin Slowey started Monday for the Marlins in the place of Nolasco, who was traded Saturday to Los Angeles. It was Slowey’s first start since June 12 when he took the mound on three days’ rest and was battered in a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
He was much sharper on 25 days’ rest between starts.
Slowey held the Braves without a run for five innings, allowing only four hits, before leaving for a pinch-hitter.
Braves starter Mike Minor was even better. Minor retired the first 10 batters he faced before Ed Lucas reached with one out in the fourth on a double.
One inning later, the Marlins took a 1-0 lead on Justin Ruggiano’s two-out single, scoring Adeiny Hechavarria. Hechavarria opened the inning with a single to extend his hitting streak to eight consecutive games.
But right after Slowey left, the Braves tied it in the sixth off Dan Jennings. Jason Heyward tripled to lead off the inning and scored on B.J. Upton’s sacrifice fly.
After that, the Braves could do nothing.
Five different Marlins relievers -- Jennings, Ryan Webb, Chad Qualls, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn -- retired the next 24 batters -- three outs shy of what would be a perfect game for a starting pitcher.
“We asked a couple of guys to go multiple innings,” Redmond said. “Those guys pitched really well. They stepped up.”
The Braves bullpen wasn’t exactly shabby, either.
Atlanta relievers retired 15 in a row from the eight inning to the 13th as the Marlins mustered little offensively.
The Marlins couldn’t make good with their best scoring chance in the 13th when they put runners at first and second with no outs. But Logan Morrison grounded into a double play and Hechavarria flied to right to end the threat.
“We had tons of chances,” Redmond said. “We had first and second late in the game. We had plenty of opportunities and just couldn’t get the big hit.”