The Florida Marlins’ latest pie-in-the-face celebration came with a twist: Wes Helms was a target twice, the second time when his 7-year-old son delivered a platter of shaving cream to dad’s face in the clubhouse.
”He more punched me than pied me,” Helms said with a grin.
The Marlins’ walkoff-win ritual is becoming commonplace but hardly routine. Helms hit a bases-loaded RBI single with none out in the 11th inning Sunday, and Florida earned its fourth walkoff victory of the week, beating the Atlanta Braves 5-4.
”You don’t see a stretch like this very often,” Helms said. ”With the lead changes and the drama at the end of the games, it’s just amazing to see that in one week.”
The Marlins went 7-3 on their homestand, with six wins by one run. The surge left them at .500 and still in playoff contention as they begin a West Coast trip Monday.
”These kind of wins are fun,” said Dan Uggla, whose single in the 11th preceded Helms’ hit. ”We would like to have a safe win and a nice little five- or six-run lead once in a while, but we’ll take them any way we can get them.”
The Braves loaded the bases four times, including in the top of the 11th, and those situations produced only one run. They stranded 11 runners.
”You let the other team off the hook that many times, eventually they’re going to cash in and beat you,” Atlanta’s Chipper Jones said.
The NL East-leading Braves lost only their second series since early May.
Florida’s Hanley Ramirez singled off Jesse Chavez (2-2) to start the 11th, and he took third on Uggla’s single. After Cody Ross was intentionally walked to load the bases, Helms hit a 0-1 pitch through the left side of the infield and was mobbed after rounding first base.
Chris Coghlan hit Helms with a pie on the field. Wes Jr., hoisted up by big rookie Mike Stanton, got dad again in the clubhouse.
Helms already is plotting payback with his son.
”I can get him when he’s sleeping,” Helms said. ”He’s going to wake up with shaving cream over his whole body.”
It was Florida’s seventh walkoff win this season.
The Marlins’ shaky bullpen blew a lead for the second game in a row but held Atlanta scoreless over the final 3-1/3 innings. Jorge Sosa (2-2), who came up from Triple-A this week, pitched two scoreless innings.
With the score tied in the 11th, Sosa gave up consecutive one-out singles to David Ross, Martin Prado and Jason Heyward to load the bases. But Nate McLouth grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Trailing 4-3, Atlanta also loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Clay Hensley came on and got Troy Glaus to bounce into a double play.
Helms had a two-run triple off Jair Jurrjens in the Marlins’ four-run fourth inning. Those were the only runs Jurrjens allowed in seven innings.
”J.J. pitched a heck of a game,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ”The four runs that inning were just stupid runs. One ball was hit good — Helms’, that was it. Four runs. I thought he was outstanding. Just a shame that we lose that game.”
Eric Hinske hit his eighth homer for Atlanta and Jones tied the game with a two-out, pinch-hit RBI double in the eighth. Heyward had his sixth consecutive multi-hit game and finished the series 7 for 11 with five walks.
Florida’s Chris Volstad, recalled from Triple-A New Orleans before the game, went six innings and allowed three runs.
”Once I settled in I was able to get back to myself, pounding that strike zone,” Volstad said. ”I was able to get through six innings, which is good.”
Marlins catcher Brad Davis, making only his second major league start, had his first two big league hits and his first RBI. He also threw out Matt Diaz trying to steal second to end the ninth.
”A great win,” Davis said. ”I’ve been here four days, and we’ve had three walkoffs. It makes playing baseball a lot of fun.”
NOTES: With Jones getting a breather, Brooks Conrad made his 12th start of the season at third base. Conrad hit a pinch-hit grand slam Saturday. … The Braves said Conrad is only the fifth player to hit two pinch-hit grand slams in the same season, based on research by the Elias Sports Bureau. … Cox managed newly inducted Hall of Famer Andre Dawson in the Venezuelan winter league when Dawson was a Class-A player in the 1970s. … The Braves fell to 18-17 against the NL East.