Tom Koehler’s night started with Nick Markakis ripping his first pitch for a hit.
Things got progressively worse soon after for the Marlins’ longest-tenured starting pitcher and led to a 6-4 Marlins defeat on Saturday night at Marlins Park.
Markakis drilled two more pitches from Koehler that produced three of the Braves runs, as Koehler gave up all six runs, five of which were earned, over 3 2/3 innings.
It was Koehler’s shortest outing since May 30 of last season — a span of 22 starts.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Early on they hit some big pitches, and they did a good job blooping some balls in that led to some runs,” Koehler said. “But as the game went on those bloops turned into doubles and giving up extra bases makes it tough.”
Koehler gave up two runs on eight hits and walked four in his first outing April 10 in Washington, resulting in a 4-2 loss. On Saturday, Koehler allowed nine hits, walked two and struck out only one in 72 pitches.
“The most frustrating part isn’t even so much the runs,” Koehler said. “I take a lot of pride in lasting deep into games and giving the team a chance to win. You never want to have a situation where you need the bullpen to pick you up for that many innings.”
The bullpen, which surrendered four runs in the eighth on Friday, kept the Marlins in the game on Saturday, as Chris Narveson, Craig Breslow and Dustin McGowan combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.
“It was early when we fell behind, and we had some chances,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We just didn’t do enough.”
The Marlins (3-6) continue to seek their first home victory of the season — now winless in four games — and first victory by one of their starting pitchers. The Braves (2-9) won their second in a row after entering the series as the only remaining winless National League team.
While Marlins starters have not recorded a victory, they had been collectively pitching well since Koehler’s last start.
Over their previous five games, the starters had not allowed more than three runs in a game and owned an ERA of 2.54 over that five-game stretch ( 28 1/3 innings, eight earned runs, which ranked second-best behind the Nationals’ 1.52 ERA entering Saturday’s game).
Justin Bour and Adeiny Hechavarria each hit their first home runs of the season.
Hechavarria got a hold of a slider from Braves starter Bud Norris and launched it over the wall in left-center field to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead.
“I felt great with it being my first home run [of the season] and because it gave our team the lead at the time,” Hechavarria said. “It was a big moment to be able to do something for the team. Things got complicated after that and we lost, but I think [Sunday] we will go back out there and give it our all to get the victory.”
Bour later blasted a towering, 415-foot home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 6-4. Bour hit safely for the fourth consecutive game and is hitting .417 during that span.
“I’m trying to take good at-bats right now and take what’s given to me,” he said.
Christian Yelich walked three times but went 0 for 2 as he failed to record a hit for the first time this season.
Giancarlo Stanton struck out four times, the last of which came in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on base. Stanton has struck out 13 times in 42 at-bats so far.
“I think he’s a little frustrated with the way the night ended,” Mattingly said. “You’ve seen some at-bats where he’s not quite on it, but I think he’s close and usually with guys like that they’re only inches away. One good swing or one good take and next thing you know, a guy like that is on a roll.”