Marlins pitcher Adam Conley addresses Wednesday's strong outing against the Braves
Marlins starting pitcher Adam Conley knew he had not performed up to his standards of late.
He had not won a decision in more than a month and had pitched past the sixth inning just once in his last nine outings.
He figured it out Wednesday.
Conley threw eight shutout innings before closer A.J. Ramos shut the door on the Marlins’ 3-0 win against the Braves, just their second win over their NL East counterpart in eight attempts this year.
“I’m not taking pitches off. I’m executing pitches more consistently in the strike zone, especially early. … My focus has just been on that,” said Conley, the Marlins’ first pitcher to toss eight complete innings in a game this season. “I haven’t been very happy with coming out of the game with two outs in the sixth, so that’s kind of been on my mind.”
There was no need for Conley (4-4, 3.56 ERA) to come out early Wednesday.
The 6-3 lefty gave up just four hits and a pair of walks in the game. He struck out four and did not allow more than one Brave on the basepaths at a time.
“That was exactly what we needed,” said manager Don Mattingly, whose Marlins (38-34) are 4-2 at Marlins Park with an upcoming four-game series against the Cubs closing out the 10-game homestand. “We needed someone to get deep into this game.”
The offense gave Conley some breathing room in the second inning.
After center fielder Marcell Ozuna started the frame with a line drive to the center-field wall for his fifth triple of the season, Justin Bour brought him home two pitches later when he belted a 1-0 pitch from Braves starter John Gant 419 feet into the right-field bleachers for a 2-0 lead.
The hits didn’t stop there.
Derek Dietrich and Chris Johnson hit back-to-back singles before Jeff Mathis drove Dietrich home with a base hit to left-center field for the 3-0 advantage.
Ichiro Suzuki closed the Marlins’ offensive attack with a two-out single — career hit No. 2,983 — before Adeiny Hechavarria ended the inning on a fly out.
“We could have had five runs there instead of three,” Mattingly said, “but obviously it’s good to get on the board. … It would have been nice to be able to tack on and tack on and kind of take the stress away.”
But the three runs turned out to be all the run support Conley needed to earn his first win since May 16 at Philadelphia, a span of seven starts.
Closer A.J. Ramos entered in the ninth and converted his 23rd save of the year. The final inning didn’t come easy.
After a pair of quick outs, Ramos gave up back-to-back singles to Nick Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski to put runners on the corners.
With Chase d’Arnaud serving as the tying run at the plate, Ramos forced d’Arnaud to fly out to left field for the final out.
Ramos has converted 32 consecutive save opportunities dating to last season and is one shy of tying Steve Cishek’s team record.
The Braves’ only other scoring threat came in the first when leadoff hitter Jace Peterson made it to third base with one out.
But Conley proceeded to strike out Freddie Freeman and then forced Jeff Francouer to chop a groundball to Hechavarria to end the inning.
Overall, the Marlins held the Braves (24-47) hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position.