Marlins can't escape rough fifth inning in loss

Marlins can't escape rough fifth inning in loss

MIAMI -- Through all their early struggles, the Marlins have pretty much been able to avoid being hurt by the big inning.

They weren't so fortune on Wednesday.

Evan Gattis and Juan Francisco each homered off Alex Sanabia in a six-run fifth inning that powered the Braves to an 8-0 win over Miami at Marlins Park.

The eight runs were the most allowed by the Marlins this season, and they were shut out for the fourth time in nine games.

The way the offense has sputtered, any runs allowed right now are troublesome. The Braves essentially ended the game in the fifth inning with their six runs.

"It's tough to pitch and be perfect, especially when we're playing teams like the Braves and the Phillies," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "We've got to do our part to take the pressure off the pitchers. We can't ask those guys to go out and throw a shutout every single night to keep us in a game."

In the three-game series, the Marlins were shut out twice. They had just six hits in the first two games, and while they had seven on Wednesday, just twice did they have a runner advance as far as third base.

For the second straight game, Placido Polanco had two hits, including a double to open the second inning. But he was unable to reach third. And in the third inning, Chris Valaika doubled to open the inning. But Sanabia was unable to execute a sacrifice bunt, and he was left on third.

"We had a chance to be up 2-0, and we didn't execute," Redmond said. "We didn't have a lot of opportunities to score but we did have a few."

Behind Mike Minor's 5 2/3 scoreless innings, the Braves were able to carry over their success against Miami to 2013. A year ago, Atlanta won 14 of 18 meetings.

The Marlins' 1-8 start is the organization's second worst ever, topped only by the 1-11 opening in 1998.

On Thursday, Miami gets a breather with a much needed day off before the Phillies are in town for three games beginning on Friday.

"It's frustrating," Redmond said. "I know the guys are frustrated. We've just got to stay with it and keep battling. I think the off-day is going to be a nice breather for us, to help us regroup. We'll come back on Friday and try to win a series."

Until the fifth inning, the Marlins had not given up more than three runs in any inning. So the big fifth inning allowed Minor to relax and improve to 2-0.

"Pretty much one through eight [in our lineup], we've got guys who can put the ball out of the ballpark," Minor said. "A lot of times we can put up big innings. We're not really worried about it throughout the game if we have zeros on the board because at any time we can put one out of the ballpark."

In the first four innings, Sanabia got into jams three times, but he was able to get two double plays to keep the game scoreless.

The fifth inning was shaping up to be more of the same because Sanabia had two outs and just one run allowed before the home runs broke things open.

"I was out in front, rushing a little bit," Sanabia said. "Everything was flat, as opposed to the previous four innings."

Atlanta sent nine to the plate in the fifth and did its big damage with the long ball. But it was small ball that put the inning in motion.

Jordan Schafer reached on a bunt single and stole second base. With one out, Andrelton Simmons laced an RBI single. Sanabia got deeper into trouble by walking Jason Heyward. Still, he was in position to escape with just the one run allowed after he retired Justin Upton on a fly ball to left.

Gattis delivered the crushing blow, lacing a three-run homer to left field. It was his second homer of the series. The Braves kept the inning alive when Dan Uggla walked. Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez made a mound visit in hopes of settling the right-hander. But the first pitch to Francisco was blistered to center field. The monstrous drive smacked off the siding of the second deck, estimated at 436 feet.

"It was a rough inning. That's all there was to it," Sanabia said. "To Gattis, it was something enough over the plate for him to get it. And the one to Francisco was just a cookie down the middle -- nothing more to that."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.