Hand's Houdini act in sixth inning keys victory

Hand's Houdini act in sixth inning keys victory

MIAMI -- Preserving leads was a problem in the series against the Mets. But on Sunday afternoon, Brad Hand's ability to work out of a no-out jam in the sixth inning was a momentum-changing moment in the Marlins' 4-0 victory over the Braves at Marlins Park.

Hand navigated his way through the heart of Atlanta's order, stranding runners on second and third, while providing his team the opportunity to add on against All-Star Julio Teheran.

"Those shutdown innings are so important," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "Momentum, especially this time of the year, when guys are on edge and every pitch is big, and every inning is important -- to keep the momentum on our side was key, and huge."

Miami grabbed a one-run lead with a two-out rally off Teheran in the fifth inning. Garrett Jones doubled and scored on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's RBI single.

Atlanta threatened immediately in the sixth inning. Jason Heyward singled and went to third on Phil Gosselin's double.

Ready to concede the tying run, Miami's infield was deep for Freddie Freeman, who tapped in front of the plate and was thrown out by Hand. Justin Upton struck out on a breaking ball, and the inning ended when Evan Gattis' sharp liner to left field was run down by Christian Yelich.

"It was a line drive, but it was a better job of Brad pitching out of that," Yelich said. "Second and third with no out. For him to make the pitches to get a fly out like that, that's all a credit to him. I just had to catch the ball."

Hand ended up throwing six scoreless innings in Miami's series-clinching victory.

"I just beared down," Hand said. "After a team scores a run, you want to go out there and put up a zero. Teheran is a great pitcher. He doesn't usually give up many runs. We got that run, I just wanted to go out there and keep the lead."

Carrying over the emotional lift in the top of the sixth, the Marlins added three runs in the bottom of the inning, and improved to 40-34 at home this season. Miami also claimed the season series, 10-9, from Atlanta.

"For us to get that run [in the fifth] was big," Redmond said. "But then to come out and put up that zero was probably more important."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.