Marlins struggle offensively, fall to hot Braves
ATLANTA (AP) – Ricky Nolasco was embarrassed to get a one-run lead and turn into a two-run deficit in the first inning.
But considering how much the Miami Marlins are struggling, maybe it’s not all that surprising.
“It’s just a tough time right now for me and a lot of people,” Nolasco said. “I don’t think anyone would have envisioned this going on, but it is and we have to deal with it.”
Kris Medlen had a successful return to the rotation and Brian McCann homered for the Atlanta Braves in a 7-1 victory over the Marlins on Tuesday night.
Miami, which has lost two straight and 10 of 13, has traded away three starting infielders, a starting pitcher and a reliever from their opening day roster in the last week.
After opening a new ballpark and spending $191 million in free agency, the Marlins’ plans have unraveled. Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, Anibal Sanchez, Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez were dealt away as Miami has fallen 14 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East.
Nolasco’s performance gave the starting pitchers a 34-43 record with a 4.17 ERA.
“If we want to have fun and we want to win some games, our starters have got to do a little better job,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Last couple weeks, we’ve gotten six innings, five innings. I think we’ve gotten beaten down. They’re better than what they show.”
Rain delayed the game 1 hour, 53 minutes before the start of the sixth inning.
Medlen (2-1) allowed four hits, one run and one walk with three strikeouts in five innings. He made his first start since receiving no-decision in an 8-3 win over the New York Mets on Aug. 4, 2010.
McCann’s 18th homer, a solo shot, gave the Braves a 4-1 lead in the third. In his last 18 games, McCann has nine homers and 21 RBIs.
Nolasco (8-10) gave up seven hits, four runs and four walks and struck out six in five innings. He has lost four straight starts and has a 7.48 ERA over that span.
“Your team gives you a 1-0 lead, and to come in and give up three (runs), it sucks all the energy out of the team right off the bat,” Nolasco said. “It’s not what you’re looking to do as a starting pitcher.”
Atlanta has won 10 of 13 to close within 2 1/2 games of first-place Washington in the NL East following the Nationals’ 8-0 loss to Philadelphia.
Donnie Murphy’s third homer made it 1-0 in the first, but the Braves took a 3-1 lead in the bottom half of the inning.
After Martin Prado and Jason Heyward singled and advanced on Nolasco’s balk, McCann’s RBI groundout made it 1-1.
Dan Uggla walked to load the bases before Juan Francisco’s liner scored Heyward from third and Uggla from second to put the Braves up 3-1.
Nolasco, who made 18 of his 34 pitches for balls and had a mound visit from pitching coach Randy St. Claire in the first, dropped to 0-3 with an 8.79 ERA in three starts against Atlanta this season.
After McCann’s homer, Nolasco escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third by striking out Medlen.
“Our starting pitchers know our offense is not going to support them that much,” Guillen said.
Rookie Tyler Pastornicky hit his first career pinch-hit homer and his second this year off Dan Jennings to make it 5-1 in the sixth. After second baseman Emilio Bonifacio’s fielding error, Heyward followed with an RBI single for a 6-1 lead.
Atlanta added a run in the eighth. McCann scored from second when Freddie Freeman singled off Ryan Webb and left fielder Greg Dobbs made a fielding error.
Cory Gearrin, Chad Durbin, Eric O’Flaherty and Jair Jurrjens combined to allow the Marlins three hits and no walks with two strikeouts in the last four innings. Since July 3, Atlanta’s bullpen has a 1.92 ERA over a 24-game span.
Medlen, who made his 19th career start, was 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 38 relief appearances this season. He won as a starter for the first time since July 7, 2010, at Philadelphia.
NOTES: Francisco went 3-for-3 with an intentional walk. … In the third, Freeman singled and stole his first base since July 30, 2011, also against the Marlins. … Atlanta RHP Tommy Hanson was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained lower back. Gearrin was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to take his place on the roster. … Atlanta LHP Paul Maholm will join his new team Wednesday and will likely start Saturday against Houston. … OF Reed Johnson was in uniform one night after getting traded with Maholm from the Cubs. To make room Johnson, the Braves optioned OF Jose Constanza to Gwinnett.