Down five, Marlins can't complete comeback
Turner loses control early; Miami chips away before Atlanta adds on
MIAMI -- In the first third of the season, the Marlins have shown competitiveness and scrappiness. You can toss in sloppiness as well.
All three were rolled into one in a frustratingly wild 9-5 loss to the Braves on Saturday afternoon at Marlins Park.
Normally, when you combine to walk nine, allow 12 hits and commit three errors, you're not in the game. The amazing part about the second game of their showdown with the Braves for first place in the National League East, the Marlins still were one hit in the eighth and ninth innings away from pulling off a dramatic comeback.
All this after spotting the Braves a five-run lead.
The tone was set early when Jacob Turner allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits with four walks in five innings.
"We're walking way too many guys," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "And then you cap it off with the sloppy defense. We're going up against the best teams in baseball, and if we expect us to go up there and compete with them, we've got to play better baseball."
Free passes are what caused the most frustration on a day there was plenty of miscues to go around. The nine walks were the second most the Marlins have issued this season. They walked 10 in a 9-3 loss to the Dodgers on May 12.
"We've got to eliminate walks," Redmond said. "I can live with getting hit, but not giving up free passes and every one of those guys score. We've got to do a better job of getting back in the strike zone and throwing strikes and putting the pressure on them. And we've got to play better defense. It just wasn't a good day for us."
Freddie Freeman delivered a two-run double in a three-run third and Jason Heyward hit a two-run single in the fourth. But Miami, refusing to go away quietly, made things interesting.
Casey McGehee and Derek Dietrich each drove in two runs.
In the ninth, trailing by four, McGehee had a bases-loaded showdown with closer Craig Kimbrel, who collected his 15th save and No. 154 of his career, tying him with John Smoltz for the most all-time by a Braves closer.
With the count full, McGehee tapped to short, ending the game that lasted three hours and 28 minutes.
"We shot ourselves in the foot a few too many times," McGehee said. "That's too good a club to be doing those things. You're not going to be winning too many games at this level."
The positive was the fact the team doesn't fold, no matter what. The Marlins slapped out 11 hits and made it a one-run game in the eighth inning.
"Again, there were some positives to come out of it," said McGehee, who now has 34 RBIs on the season. "As bad as it looked for a little while, I had a chance with two outs in the ninth with the tying run at the plate."
Falling behind by five runs early put the Marlins in a deep hole, and they were almost able to climb out of it.
"I just lost a little feel there with a couple of guys," Turner said. "I thought I threw the ball well to a lot of guys, but the walks -- something like 12 straight balls -- lost a little bit of feel and not executing at the bottom of the lineup really put me in a bad spot."
With two outs in the eighth inning, tempers flared in the Miami dugout as bench coach Rob Leary was ejected by home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott for arguing a strike call to Giancarlo Stanton. It was the first time in two seasons Leary was tossed.
"Everybody was yelling in there," Redmond said. "We just picked Rob, poor guy. I'll have to give him some money."
Stanton singled to left on the next pitch by reliever David Carpenter, and he scored on McGehee's RBI double to right. Garrett Jones walked, and Marcell Ozuna's run-scoring single to center made it 6-5.
Shae Simmons, making his MLB debut, entered and struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia on three pitches to preserve the one-run lead.
"Red does a good job with these players," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "They don't give at-bats away and they battle. Then here we go, you've got bases loaded with McGehee at the plate. I'm glad we got out of that inning."
Hopes for some walk-off drama were hurt in the top of the ninth, when Atlanta broke the game open off A.J. Ramos, scoring three runs. Gerald Laird had an RBI single, and two runs scored on Ramiro Pena's safety-squeeze bunt. A second run raced home when Saltalamacchia's throw went for an error.
"I just didn't pound the zone enough," Ramos said. "It's plain and simple. Whenever I missed, it was too big a miss."
Miami managed three runs on seven hits off Ervin Santana, who worked six innings.
For Atlanta, it was a matter of time before Freeman snapped out of his season-long slump against the Marlins. When he did, the Braves first baseman did some damage. With two outs in the third inning, Freeman laced a two-run double down the right-field line. It put a halt to his 0-for-29 skid against Miami.
"Not that anybody wants to win anymore than any other game this season, but at the same time, it's a division rival, so you want to play well," Turner said. "We definitely have some work to do tomorrow."