Brad Hand was on a one-man mission Sunday.
Not only did Hand pitch the Marlins to a 4-1 win over the Braves, but aided his own cause by driving in a pair of runs with two safety squeeze bunts.
The win ended a six-game losing streak for the last-place Marlins.
Hand became the first Marlin ever to drop down two RBI sacrifice bunts in the same game, and the first player in the majors to do so since Alex Cora on July 16, 2004.
“I’d like to think I can hit a little bit,” Hand said with a grin.
Hand held the Braves to one run over seven innings in one of the best starting performances ever by the left-hander. The Braves scored their only run off Hand on Jonny Gomes’ solo homer in the seventh. It was one of the only two hits allowed by Hand.
“He had a big day and it was much needed,” manager Dan Jennings said.
But Hand’s bunting skills stood out just as much as his pitching. With runners at the corners in the second, Hand scored Cole Gillespie from third with his one-out sacrifice bunt.
In the sixth, with the Marlins leading 2-0, Hand did it again, scoring J.T. Realmuto from third with another well-placed bunt.
“It worked one time so why not go back to the well?” Jennings said of the thinking on Hand’s second bunt attempt.
Why Hand hasn’t enjoyed great success in general (he is now 6-19 as a starter), he has mastered the Braves. The home run by Gomes ended a stretch of 20 consecutive scoreless innings against Atlanta, dating to Sept. 7, 2014.
With the victory, the Marlins avoided a four-game sweep to the Braves. But they still own the worst record in the majors.
Bryan Morris worked the eighth, and A.J. Ramos pitched a clean ninth for his first save since July 28.
Following an off day on Monday, the Marlins open a two-game series at Marlins Park against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.
▪ The Marlins don’t expect Marcell Ozuna to miss more than a few games after spraining his left wrist on Saturday for Triple A New Orleans. But it remains unknown when the Marlins will call up the outfielder, who has been in the minors for more than a month.
By holding off, the Marlins have pushed back Ozuna’s first year of salary arbitration, a move that saves the team money in the long run. Ozuna has hit .303 with five home runs for New Orleans.
▪ Monday: Off day.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (1-1, 4.09 ERA) vs. Boston Red Sox RHP Steven Wright (5-4, 4.12), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.