Maholm's road woes continue as Braves drop finale
Bid for series sweep spoiled as Atlanta ends with road trip split
MIAMI -- Everything has seemed right with Paul Maholm whenever he has pitched at Turner Field this year. But like many of the rest of his Braves teammates, life on the road has proven to be quite challenging.
Maholm's road woes were extended as he allowed the Marlins to provide Jacob Turner all the support he needed with the four-run first inning they produced in Wednesday afternoon's 6-2 win over the Braves at Marlins Park.
"It is what it is," Maholm said. "You move on after you have starts like that. I'll probably have another like it at some point during the year, maybe two. So you move on and get ready for the next one."
Maholm can only hope that he does not experience too many days like this. Along with being frustrated by the four-run first, he fouled a ball off his foot and fielded a sharp Jeff Mathis comebacker after it had bounced off both of his knees. To cap things off, he was standing in the on-deck circle when he was nearly hit by a Gerald Laird foul ball.
In other words, this was an all-around brutal experience for Maholm, who has compiled a 7.13 ERA in his past nine road starts. Contrastingly, the veteran left-hander ranks ninth in the National League with a 1.93 home ERA.
"If you looked at my home record and all that I've done at home, I'd probably be a leading candidate for a lot of awards," Maholm said. "Obviously, we have to take everything into account. I haven't done as well as I've wanted on the road."
Life on the road has been so cruel to the Braves that they actually had reason to be satisfied with the fact that they split this six-game trip that started in Philadelphia. They had produced a losing record on four of their previous five trips.
"I thought we'd never win another road trip," Freeman said with a laugh. "At least we came in and tied it up."
The Braves entered this game with a chance to sweep a road series for the first time since April 14. But the odds of this happening quickly evaporated after Maholm opened his outing by walking Justin Ruggiano, who advanced to second base when Ed Lucas followed with a single. This set the stage for Giancarlo Stanton to drill a changeup to the left-center field wall for a two-run double.
"The pitch before I threw a changeup right where I wanted to and he didn't swing," Maholm said. "So in your mind, you want to throw the same pitch and also you want to get a strike out of it, or try to see if you can get it a little closer. I don't know where it was. It was probably right down the middle. Luckily, he didn't kill anyone in the stands."
Before mercifully concluding his 37-pitch first-inning, Maholm surrendered RBI singles to Placido Polanco and Mathis. But the Marlins were unable to do any further damage against him during his 4 1/3-inning effort that concluded after he allowed a pair of singles in the fifth.
The first-inning contributions were more than enough for Turner, who scattered four hits and allowed two runs in seven innings. His outing provided the Braves a glimpse of how he has managed to produce a 2.33 ERA in his first eight starts this year.
"We went in there thinking he was going to throw us a lot of cutters to us lefties," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "I didn't get one cutter the whole game. I got all two-seamers and changeups. You've just got to keep that in the back of your mind. He beat us today, but hopefully we can get him next time."
The Braves produced their first run when Chris Johnson and Dan Uggla opened the second inning with consecutive doubles. But two baserunning mistakes stunted the momentum. Uggla was retired attempting to advance to third base on a dropped third strike following B.J. Upton's strikeout. Moments later, Upton was picked off first base.
Freeman doubled and scored to cut Atlanta's deficit to two runs in the sixth inning. But the Marlins added two insurance runs with Polanco's two-out single off Anthony Varvaro in the eighth inning.
"They've got a lot of guys who can hit home runs," Turner said. "You want to keep as many guys off base as possible, because with one swing, it can really change the game."