Braves contained by Cosart; Harang can't solve Miami
Freeman's homer in seventh ends shutout bid; veteran allows six runs
MIAMI -- Well aware of the struggles they have encountered over the past couple of weeks, the Braves feel fortunate that they have managed to stay in the thick of the National League Wild Card race. They should feel even better about the fact that they will go through the rest of the season without having to face Jarred Cosart or watch Aaron Harang pitch again at Marlins Park.
As Harang experienced his latest ugly outing in Miami on Friday night, Cosart was extending his recent dominance with 7 2/3 strong innings that carried the Marlins to an 11-3 win over the Braves, who were in position to be shut out for the fourth time in six games before Freddie Freeman began the seventh inning with a home run.
"This is nothing out of the ordinary," Braves right fielder Jason Heyward said. "It happens. Teams get blown out. Teams get big leads. Teams don't play well one night. You want to play well and you want to make every game count right now. That's what we need to do. Tonight is over with and tomorrow is another day."
Freeman's shot halted his woes against the Marlins and served as one of the few bright spots for the Braves, who have now lost four of their past six games and seven of their past 12. Still, they have managed to stay within one game of the Brewers in the battle to secure the second NL Wild Card spot.
While the Brewers and Pirates currently stand as the Braves' two primary competitors in the Wild Card race, the Marlins now sit just four games behind Atlanta. Their hope to make a surprise run to the postseason could be aided by the contributions of Cosart, who has produced a 1.27 ERA over his past five starts.
After limiting the Braves to three runs, two of which were tallied as he attempted to complete the eighth inning for the third time in his career, Cosart credited the early lead the Marlins produced against Harang, who allowed two runs in three of the four innings he pitched.
"It's really comfortable as a starter, to go out there and jump on the other guy early," Cosart said. "I've been in the other boat too as what happened to Harang tonight. It makes you more comfortable."
When pitching for the Astros on June 26, Cosart allowed the Braves a first-inning run and then held them scoreless over his final six innings. The right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings last weekend at Turner Field. Thus he had allowed just one run in 20 innings against Atlanta until surrendering the opposite-field shot hit by Freeman, who is 7-for-65 against the Marlins this year.
"I feel like [Cosart] was better in Atlanta than he was tonight," Heyward said. "He was able to get a cushion early. With his stuff, it's not hard to get in a groove. Tonight was just one of those nights where he was able to get a lead early and then settle in."
As Cosart was limiting the Braves to five hits and three runs, Harang was allowing the Marlins six earned runs and 10 hits over 3 2/3 innings. This outing might not have been as ugly as the one the Braves veteran experienced on April 30, when he allowed nine earned runs in 4 2/3 innings at this same stadium. But it certainly conjured memories of that outing.
"The first one here was rough and the second one here was better," Harang said. "Then today obviously wasn't great. You take your tough-luck losses and forget about it and move on to the next one."
After Christian Yelich began the bottom of the first with a double and advanced to third base on the first of Donovan Solano's four hits, Harang struck out Giancarlo Stanton. But Casey McGehee and Marcell Ozuna followed with consecutive RBI singles to give the Marlins an early lead.
Ozuna, who matched Solano's four-hit performance, and Justin Bour notched RBI doubles in a two-run third inning. Cosart helped himself with a single that put him in position to score when Stanton chased Harang with a two-run double in the fourth inning.
"I hope the Marlins got all of their hits out of the way," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We left a lot of pitches in the middle of the plate and they capitalized."