Hand stymies Braves to halt Marlins' skid

Hand stymies Braves to halt Marlins' skid

ATLANTA -- Brad Hand drove in two runs with a pair of bunts and surrendered just two hits over the seven strong innings he completed while helping the Marlins claim Sunday afternoon's 4-1 win over the Braves and Shelby Miller, who has gone winless in his past 15 starts.

Dee Gordon's two-out RBI single capped the two-run second inning that proved decisive for Hand, who held the Braves scoreless until Jonny Gomes hit a homer with one out in the seventh inning. The only other hit surrendered by the Marlins left-hander was Miller's two-out double in the third inning. Hand's seven-inning effort -- Miami's longest since Tom Koehler on July 23 -- came hours after the Marlins revealed Jose Fernandez will likely go on the disabled list with a right biceps strain.

"It feels great," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said after his team's six-game slide ended. "There's some excitement in here. I think after losing six in a row, it makes the flight back to Miami a heck of a lot better. That part is welcome."

Miller has gone winless while producing a respectable 3.16 ERA in the 15 starts he has made since coming an out short of completing a no-hitter at Marlins Park on May 17. The Braves right-hander was once again foiled by a lack of run support and the command issue he experienced while totaling 71 pitches through the first three innings. He allowed two earned runs and five hits while throwing 100 pitches over five innings.

"My stuff wasn't sharp by any means, nothing was, not my cutter and my fastball command was terrible," Miller said. "My mechanics were off. It was kind of a rough day for me personally out there, but I'm a guy who will figure it out this coming week and look forward to the next one."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Morris gets out of trouble

Markakis lines out off Morris: Preserving late-inning leads has been an issue all season for the Marlins. In the eighth inning, Bryan Morris navigated through a scoreless frame, but it wasn't easy. The right-hander threw seven straight balls to open the inning, walking Andrelton Simmons. With runners on second and third, Morris faced Nick Markakis, who sported the National League's current high hit streak -- 15 games. Markakis lined sharply to right, but Ichiro Suzuki was able to run the ball down.

"Ichiro never surprises me," Jennings said. "He's very comfortable out there. From our angle, you could see he had a great jump on that ball. When you saw him closing, you felt it was going to land in his glove."

Hit streaks end: The Braves had averaged 5.8 runs through the previous six games of this homestand with the help of Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski, who both bid adieu to their long hitting streaks on Sunday. Pierzynski's 13-game streak was snapped when he grounded out to begin the bottom of the ninth. The veteran catcher also grounded into a double play after Cameron Maybin had drawn a leadoff walk in the fourth inning. More >

Hand's second squeeze play

The Mad bunter: The Marlins received more than just a strong start from Hand. The lefty helped his cause with the bat. Hand was credited with two sacrifice, RBI bunts. The lefty entered the day 4-for-55 (.073) in his career. He also had just two RBIs, one in 2011 and the other in '14. He doubled that total with a couple of safety squeeze bunts.

Hand is the first Marlin ever to have two RBI sacrifice bunts in same game, and first MLB player since Alex Cora on July 16, 2004.

"I was a pretty good hitter in high school, I thought I was," Hand said. "Just taking a lot of time off from hitting, you kind of lose it. I'd like to think I could hit a little bit."

Miller strikes out Yelich

Lack of support: Miller's two-out double in the third inning accounted for the only hit the Braves recorded while he was in the game. This marked the eighth time during the 15-start winless streak that Atlanta has not scored a single run while Miller still had the possibility of recording a win. The Braves have provided one run or less of support in 11 of these 15 games.

"We've seen it so many times in our game, and you can't quantify it, you try to quantify it and come up with some kind of theory, and you really can't," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "There's always somebody that gets day games, somebody gets the rain delays, somebody's team scores a lot of runs and sometimes you don't." More >

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Miller's winless streak is the longest by a Braves pitcher since Jo Jo Reyes went winless over 18 starts from June 18, 2008-May 13, 2009. Reyes posted a 6.59 ERA and his average run support during this span was 1.88 runs per game. Miller has received 1.38 runs per game during his skid.

Ichiro's triple in the ninth gives him 4,187 career professional hits, counting his nine seasons in Japan. Ichiro is closing in on a milestone. Ty Cobb had 4,191 MLB hits, second all-time.

QUOTABLE
"Dee had two hits and an RBI. [Christian] Yelich with another three-hit game. He had a huge add-on RBI there in the ninth inning. [Cole] Gillespie had two hits, and Ichiro had a big triple. It was good to see up-and-down the lineup, guys swinging the bats the way they did, and being able to capitalize on opportunities when they came our way." -- Jennings, on the opportunistic offense

INSTANT REPLAY

Gillespie steals second

Replay worked to the Marlins' advantage in the top of the third inning. Gillespie, who singled with two outs, attempted to steal second. Initially, second-base umpire David Rackley called Gillespie out. But after challenging, it took an estimated 1-minute, 18-seconds to overturn the call, as replay showed Gillespie's foot touched the base just before second baseman Jace Peterson's tag.

WHAT'S NEXT
Marlins: Off on Monday, the Marlins open a two-game set against the Red Sox on Tuesday at Marlins Park. For the 7:10 p.m. ET start, lefty Justin Nicolino (1-1, 4.09) is getting called up from New Orleans. Boston counters with right-hander Steven Wright (5-4, 4.12). Nicolino is 7-7 with a 3.52 ERA in 20 starts with Triple-A New Orleans.

Braves: Atlanta will return to action on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET, when it begins a two-game series against the Rays. Williams Perez will take the mound in attempt to rekindle the success he had before going on the disabled list with a bruised left foot. In the two starts he's made since being activated, the rookie hurler has allowed 15 runs over 14 1/3 innings.

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Mark Bowman and Joe Frisaro are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.