Marlins cling to WC chances in win over Braves

Marlins cling to WC chances in win over Braves

ATLANTA -- It might be by their fingertips, but the Marlins are still clinging to postseason hopes. Christian Yelich knocked a two-run double and Ichiro Suzuki collected two hits, an RBI and a run scored as Miami held off the Braves, 7-5, on Tuesday night at Turner Field.

A night after rallying back from seven down to pull even only to lose, 12-7, the Marlins overcame a two-run deficit in the first inning after Freddie Freeman homered off Jake Esch.

With 17 games remaining, the Marlins are five games behind the Mets and 4 1/2 off the pace of the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot. Both of those teams won.

"Hopefully we can put a flash together here and just kind of go on a run and do something," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "If you just keep winning games, you never know what's going to happen."

Ichiro's leadoff triple jump-started a three-run fifth, which put Miami in front to stay. Marcell Ozuna and Justin Bour produced RBI singles in the inning. But Atlanta closed the gap to 6-5 on Nick Markakis' two-out RBI single in a two-run seventh.

"I think we're seeing our guys getting back," Mattingly said. "You see J.B. in the lineup. Marcell is back in the lineup. [Giancarlo] Stanton is around the corner. We're kind of getting our team back together. For a good bit there we were missing two big cogs in our offense. All of a sudden you had Martin [Prado] and Yelich and J.T. [Realmuto]."

Markakis' RBI single

The speed of Miami's pinch-runner, Yefri Perez, enabled the Marlins to add an insurance run in the eighth. Running for Bour, Perez dashed home on Chris Withrow's two-out wild pitch.

According to Statcast™, Perez's running speed to the plate topped at 20.5 mph.

September callup shows off wheels

Perez scores on wild pitch

Freeman's two-run homer extended his hitting streak to 19 games, and the first baseman reached 30 home runs for the first time in his career. Matt Kemp homered off Esch in the fourth.

"You just can't keep coming back," Braves manager Brian Snitker said about losing a lead against the Marlins for the second straight day. "At some point in time, we've got to stop the bleeding and throw up a zero. We just weren't able to do that."

Freeman's 30th homer, 500th RBI

Bases-loaded escapes: A three-run lead nearly slipped away for Miami in the seventh inning, after Atlanta scored twice. Kyle Barraclough had trouble finding the strike zone, inheriting one on and two outs from Mike Dunn, who relieved Austin Brice. Barraclough walked Kemp before Markakis delivered an RBI single. After Tyler Flowers walked, Barraclough retired Jace Peterson on a fielder's choice grounder, preserving a 6-5 lead. In the fourth inning, it was Justin Nicolino who got out of a bases-full, two-out jam, retiring Ender Inciarte on one pitch, inducing a comebacker.

"The biggest thing was just going out there and executing my pitches and not worrying about guys on," said Nicolino, who was credited with the win. "I was told in the bullpen, 'You've got Inciarte.' My mindset was getting him out and making my pitches. We threw him a first-pitch cutter -- a comebacker, a huge out right there. That was the plan."

Nicolino escapes jam

Bash bros: Freeman quickly ignited the Braves' offense with his two-run homer in the first inning. The blast, which left his bat at 109 mph and traveled 416 feet according to Statcast™, tied the first baseman with Kemp for the team lead with 30 home runs and gave Atlanta its first pair of batters with 30 or more homers in a season since Andruw Jones and Adam LaRoche in 2006. Kemp quickly regained the lead, however, as he hit a solo shot to lead off the fourth. The homer, which had an exit velocity of 108 mph and went 434 feet, marked the left fielder's fifth in his past 13 games. During that span, he's batting .368 (21-for-57) with 13 RBIs. More >

Kemp's solo homer

Ichiro stays hot: Ichiro posted his second straight multi-hit game and 900th of his Major League career. His second hit on Tuesday -- a leadoff triple in the fifth -- opened a three-run inning after Atlanta pulled even in the fourth. Ichiro scored the go-ahead run on Ozuna's RBI single.

"It's pretty impressive. He's a flexible guy," Kemp said. "Every time you see him at the plate, you think, 'I can't even do that stuff.' He's had a great career, and I'm sure he's going to play another three or four years."

Ichiro's RBI single

Not-so-triumphant return: After flirting with a no-hitter and then striking out a career-high 10 batters in his first two starts back from Triple-A Gwinnett, Matt Wisler couldn't find the same consistency in his first outing in nearly two weeks. Making his return from a left oblique injury, the right-hander cruised through the first two innings before running into trouble in the third. Wisler tossed 24 pitches in the frame and allowed three runs on four hits, including Yelich's two-run double. Two innings later, after Kemp tied the game at 4 in the fourth, Wisler gave up an RBI single to Ozuna and was chased after just 4 1/3 innings. The Braves haven't had a starter toss five innings in four straight games and six of their past eight.

"I just left the ball up a little bit today," Wisler said. "My slider wasn't as sharp as it has been, either. I think just a little bit of rust, but I've got some stuff to fix. I still shouldn't have had an outing like that. It's still frustrating to give up six runs like that, but I've just got to go back to work and improve for my next start."

Yelich's two-run double

"These guys [Braves] have been swinging the bats in the second half. They get Matt over there, which gives them another power bat with Freddie, and it lengthens their lineup. They're a club on the move. You can see it. It's hard to get through some of those innings." -- Mattingly, on the Braves' improvements

The Marlins' dugout expressed its displeasure with home-plate umpire Ramon De Jesus' strike zone for much of the night, and in the seventh inning, after Barraclough walked Flowers to load the bases, bench coach Tim Wallach provided some choice words. De Jesus ejected Wallach.

"He was talking about dinner or something, and they misunderstood what he was saying," Mattingly quipped. "Wally fired up Barraclough, said he wasn't buying if he didn't get that out."

Wallach's ejection

The Braves issued a successful challenge in the second after Adeiny Hechavarria was called safe at first on a potential inning-ending double play. A short replay review showed Peterson's throw to first beat the Marlins' shortstop to the bag, helping Atlanta escape the inning unscathed.

Braves turn two after review

Marlins: Miami plays its final game at Turner Field at 7:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Jose Fernandez (14-8, 2.90 ERA) gets the start. Fernandez is 4-2 with a 2.96 ERA in eight career starts against Atlanta.

Braves: Atlanta will counter with Julio Teheran, who allowed five runs on 11 hits in his most recent outing against the Marlins on July 1. That's when a right thigh infection became the first of multiple setbacks for the right-hander, but he has appeared to return to form, posting a 1.89 ERA over his past three starts.

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Pat James is a reporter for based in Atlanta and covered the Braves on Tuesday.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for 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.