Derek Lowe took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, loaded the bases and departed with his team up by two runs. Then the real excitement began.
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The Atlanta Braves survived that scoring threat, gave up the lead one strike from victory, went ahead again in the 10th and escaped another jam to beat the Florida Marlins 3-2.
”The most important thing is we found a way to win,” Lowe said. ”We’ve been in a lot of tight games. We’re used to it in a strange way. The majority of our games are this way. It comes down to one pitch.”
Freddie Freeman singled home the go-ahead run in the 10th.
The wild loss extended the Marlins’ losing streak to seven games, their longest since April 2009. Six of the defeats have been by a single run.
After the game Florida announced the firing of batting coach John Mallee. He’ll be replaced by Eduardo Perez, son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez.
”I don’t want to put it all on John, and I don’t want to put it all on Eduardo,” president for baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. ”We just need to find a way to score some runs.”
They couldn’t again the 37-year-old Lowe, who gave up two hits in 6 2/3 innings. He had his sinker working, with 13 of his 20 outs coming on grounders.
”The wind was blowing in my face and making the ball sink,” he said with a smile. ”It seems like in about the third inning we were able to get in a good rhythm. It’s pretty fun when you can throw the ball where you want. It doesn’t happen very often.”
The Marlins went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and are 8 for 54 (.148) in those situations during the first six games of their dismal homestand.
”Every game we’ve been one hit away from winning,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said.
Perez, a former major-leaguer who had been working in the Indians organization, will join the team Thursday. Left fielder Logan Morrison said Mallee was being made a scapegoat.
”I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s just,” Morrison said. ”He had us prepared. It’s not his fault we’re not scoring runs. We let him down, and it’s disappointing.”
The Marlins trailed 2-0 in the ninth and had been shut out for 24 1/3 consecutive innings when they tied the game one with two out. Mike Stanton hit a two-run single on a 1-2 pitch from Braves closer Craig Kimbrel (2-2).
Stanton continued to second on an errant throw by right fielder Joe Mather, but Ozzie Martinez struck out to send the game into extra innings.
Chipper Jones walked with one out in the 10th against Mike Dunn (4-4), then took second on a single by Brian McCann. Freeman, who had been 0 for 7 in the series, followed with single up the middle.
The Marlins had two on with one out in the bottom of the 10th, but George Sherrill struck out Greg Dobbs, and Scott Linebrink earned his first save since July 3, 2009 by striking out Gaby Sanchez on a 2-2 pitch.
Sanchez took strike three looking, and replays showed the breaking ball appeared outside. He threw his bat in protest but complained only briefly to plate umpire Andy Fletcher.
Jordan Schafer had two hits and scored twice for Atlanta off Ricky Nolasco, who allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings.
Kimbrel struck out the first two batters in the ninth, but Morrison walked and took third on a double by John Buck – only the Marlins’ third hit. Stanton followed with his hit, the Marlins’ first in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the series.
Kimbrel, a rookie, blew a save for the fifth time in 23 chances.
”Learning curve,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Lowe gave up a walk to start the second, then retired 16 straight before Dobbs singled with one in the seventh for the Marlins’ first hit. Eric O’Flaherty relieved Lowe with the bases loaded and Atlanta leading 2-0, and after McCann made nice stops on a couple of pitches in the dirt, Stanton struck out to end the inning.
Notes: Braves LF Martin Prado was held out of the starting lineup. He bruised his left knee when hit by a throw stealing second base Tuesday. Gonzalez said he might miss only one start. … Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez (strained back) hit in the batting cage and played catch. He may begin a rehabilitation assignment Friday. … Florida CF Chris Coghlan made a leaping catch to rob Alex Gonzalez of an extra-base hit in the first inning.