Walks haunt Marlins in loss to Braves

Walks haunt Marlins in loss to Braves

ATLANTA -- Free passes are taking their toll, and three of the four walks issued on Saturday afternoon came back to haunt the Marlins in their 7-2 loss to the Braves at Turner Field.

The big damage came after Wei-Yin Chen exited after five innings with Miami ahead 2-1. Relievers Jose Urena and Edwin Jackson combined to walk three, and each scored.

"I think guys are just trying to be too fine, trying to make the perfect pitch," catcher J.T. Realmuto said. "We've got to pitch to contact. I think sometimes we get away from that. That's partly on me. I have to make sure the pitchers look more into getting early outs instead of trying to punch guys out. That's something we need to focus on."

The Marlins are second in the Majors in walks allowed, with 202. Only the Reds, who entered Saturday with 216, have issued more free passes.

Those extra baserunners create more traffic and trouble, and the Marlins weren't able to hold a narrow lead because of them on Saturday.

Urena got into a jam with one out in the sixth inning. After Freddie Freeman singled, Tyler Flowers drew a walk. Atlanta scored three times in the inning and took a 4-2 advantage.

In the seventh, Jackson walked pinch-hitter Chase d'Arnaud and Mallex Smith before Gordon Beckham delivered the decisive blow with a three-run homer.

Beckham's three-run shot

"We just have to continue to get better," manager Don Mattingly said of the walks. "Just like giving up a lot of hits. Walks seem to hurt you more with the pitch count and all that. In certain counts, we've got to try to cause action."

The pitch count trouble on Saturday came in the fourth inning when Wei-Yin Chen threw 39 of his 90 pitches. The long inning, which included 18 foul balls, prevented Chen from going out for the sixth.

"When Don told me, I was kind of surprised, but he told me he was trying to protect me because I had a very long fourth inning," Chen said through his interpreter. "For me, I still felt good. I was ready to go out for the sixth inning."

The Marlins felt they could have shaved five of the pitches off Chen's log if home-plate umpire Ben May ruled Freeman's foul-tip was caught by Realmuto. But the ball had a dirt mark on it, and while Miami feels Realmuto made the catch, the at-bat continued.

Chen strikes out Freeman

Five pitches later, Freeman struck out. But it took 10 pitches, not five.

"During that at-bat, I'm convinced I already struck him out once before he actually struck out," Chen said. "But the umpire didn't agree."

Realmuto also felt he caught the ball.

"The ball had a dirt spot on it, but it must have been a ball in play or something," Realmuto said. "The ball did have a dirt spot on it, and that's what he made the decision on."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.