Braves pour it on early, finish off Fish in finale

Braves pour it on early, finish off Fish in finale

Braves pour it on early, finish off Fish in finale
ATLANTA -- One night after their seven-game winning streak was snapped, the Braves quickly set out to make sure one loss to the Marlins didn't become two.

The Braves scored three runs in each of the first two innings in Thursday night's series finale, and held on through seven more innings and a rain delay for a 6-1 victory in front of 19,685 at Turner Field. It was the Braves' eighth win in nine games and improved their record to 6-1 on the homestand.

Atlanta sent 16 batters to the plate in the first two innings, amassing eight hits against Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi. Jason Heyward had two hits and Freedie Freeman and Chipper Jones added a two-run doubles.

"We got out early," Jones said. "He wasn't getting many of his secondary pitches over. He wasn't getting many swings and misses with them. So it allowed us to be able to get fastballs in good counts, and we didn't miss them the first couple innings."

The outburst was enough to chase Eovaldi after two innings. It was his first loss since being acquired from the Dodgers in the Hanley Ramirez trade last week.

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said Eovaldi's offspeed pitches weren't good enough to contain the Braves' offense.

"With the hitting club they have, they aren't missing too many fastballs," Guillen said. "He was behind. His changeup was bad. His breaking ball was bad. To have a good game, especially against them -- they swing the bats very well -- your breaking ball has to work."

As bad as the game began for the Marlins and Eovaldi, it could have been worse. The Braves batted around, and Eovaldi struck out his counterpart, Mike Minor, to end the inning and get out of a bases-loaded jam.

The Braves picked up in the second right where they left off in the first inning. Eovaldi allowed the first three batters to reach base, and Freeman delivered the knockout blow with a two-run double to extend Atlanta's lead to six.

As the Braves were putting the game out of reach in the second inning, rain began to fall at Turner Field. The teams played through the shower for more than an inning as lightning flashed dramatically in the background.

In the fourth, however, the rain became too much and play was halted with two outs in the top of the inning. Because the Braves weren't sure how long the delay would last, they quickly made the decision to tell Minor his night was over.

Minor allowed two hits in 3 2/3 scoreless innings, but the delay snapped his streak of quality starts at four. Minor said he was frustrated by the decision, though he understood it.

"I think anybody would [be frustrated], just 'cause we're all competitive," Minor said. "We honestly didn't know what was going on, and it's not really a risk to take right now."

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he might have stuck with Minor if he was older. But with the 24-year old just beginning a promising career, Gonzalez didn't want to take any chances.

"It wasn't worth it," Gonzalez said. "If he was 32 and you didn't have to worry about the arm or the next start, then you could try to get a feel for it and say go ahead and go another inning and [one-third] more."

Minor's abbreviated start forced the Braves' bullpen to throw the final 5 1/3 innings. In all, the 'pen combined to throw 16 2/3 innings in the four-game series. The relievers allowed just two runs, including one by right-hander Cristhian Martinez on Thursday.

Gonzalez had nothing but praise for his overworked bullpen.

"They're running on fumes right now," Gonzalez said. "We need to get some starters to go deep in some ballgames and for Mother Nature to cooperate a little bit. But tip your hat to those guys. They did a terrific job of holding the Marlins team in check."

Seven games into the homestand, the Braves have played the Phillies and Marlins, the fourth- and fifth-place teams in the National League East. They finish the homestand with three games against the lowly Astros, who have lost 25 of their last 28 games. After sweeping the Phillies and taking three of four from the Marlins, the Braves are looking for more.

"I said 9-1 would be really, really good," Jones said. "Actually, I'd like 10-0, but we can't be perfect every day."

Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.