Francisco homers as Braves beat Marlins
MIAMI (AP) -- As a backup to Chipper Jones, Juan Francisco patiently waits for his chance.
Francisco took advantage of an opportunity when Jones got Wednesday afternoon off. Francisco homered and drove in three runs, helping the Atlanta Braves beat Miami 7-1 after the downsizing Marlins jettisoned yet another star player by trading Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I was picking up the pitches well today," Francisco said. "I was aggressive, but at the same time patient, not swinging at pitches wildly."
Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward also homered to back Tommy Hanson (11-5), who pitched around a career-high seven walks and seven Marlins steals.
"Seven walks and seven stolen bases, to go out and pitch five innings and give up a run, I have no idea how I did that," Hanson said. "I don't even know if that's ever happened. I was just having a hard time locating my fastball and throwing strikes when I needed to. The good part is that we won and, hopefully, I can do a better job next time."
The last pitcher to accomplish the feat had been Seattle's Randy Johnson, who walked seven as the Mariners beat Oakland 14-6 on July 29, 1989, during a game in which the Athletics had eight steals, according to STATS LLC.
Hanson allowed one run and three hits in five innings.
"He got his 11th win without being too sharp," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Good for us."
Ricky Nolasco (8-9) gave up six runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings, dropping to 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA against the Braves this season.
A Marlins Park-record crowd of 36,711 watched the most steals by a team in the major leagues this season and the high for the Marlins since 2002. Jose Reyes and Donovan Solano each had two stolen bases as the Marlins were caught just once.
"The game was pretty confusing," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "In five innings we stole seven bases, walked seven times, had three doubles, and we score one. Sometimes you think about it and you shake your head how that thing can happen."
Miami, which has traded Anibal Sanchez and Ramirez this week, appears to be embarking on its third fire sale of stars, following selloffs in 1997 and 2003. The Marlins were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
"We need to step up with runners in scoring position," center fielder Justin Ruggiano said. "Whatever that means. Maybe that means be a little bit more aggressive, maybe that means stop swinging at pitches in the dirt, I don't know. As a team we need to have a better effort and focus a little more. It's time for it to stop being the plague of the Marlins because that's all we hear about."
Ruggiano's second double of the game gave Miami a 1-0 lead in the third.
Freddie Freeman hit a tying single in the fourth and Francisco followed with a drive into the right-field upper deck estimated at 435 feet.
"I felt good went it left the bat," Francisco said. "I knew it was well hit."
Bourn's two-run homer made it 5-1 in the fifth.
"I made two mistakes giving up two-run homers and that's the game," Nolasco said. "Two balls that came back over the plate, didn't want to do that. Two good hitters, not going to miss those pitches too often in the big leagues so it put us in the hole."
Francisco's RBI single chased Nolasco.
"Nolasco was off, very off," Guillen said.
Heyward hit his 15th homer of the year, an eighth-inning drive off Wade LeBlanc.
NOTES: A crowd of 36,601 witnessed the first game at Marlins Park on April 4 against St. Louis. ... Miami batters tied their season high with 14 strikeouts, including four by Brett Hayes. ... Francisco came into the game hitting .222 (4 for 18) in July. ... RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-6, 4.15 ERA), acquired from Dodgers, will start Saturday against San Diego as LeBlanc remains in the bullpen. ... Both teams are off on Thursday with Braves RHP Ben Sheets (2-0, 0.00 ERA) pitching the series opener Friday against Philadelphia. Marlins RHP Carlos Zambrano (5-8, 4.42 ERA) will face Padres RHP Kip Wells (1-3, 4.00 ERA).