Eovaldi solid, but Cishek allows tiebreaking shot
First homer off closer at home since April '13; Miami held to Ozuna HR
MIAMI -- With Steve Cishek on the mound, the ball doesn't usually leave the yard at Marlins Park.
Unfortunately for the closer and the Marlins, it did on Sunday afternoon.
Evan Gattis crushed a two-run homer in the ninth inning that lifted the Braves to a 4-2 comeback win and a series sweep.
The Gattis shot to center was the first home run Cishek has given up at home since April 28, 2013, when Dioner Navarro went deep for the Cubs. It also was the first homer surrendered by the Miami closer since June 4, 2013, at Philadelphia. John Mayberry Jr. connected in the 10th inning of that game.
This contest was even at 2 before Cishek came in and gave up a leadoff single to Freddie Freeman. Gattis followed with the blast that provided the difference.
"I just fell behind with two sliders," Cishek said. "Any time you fall behind with two sliders ... he's a dead-red fastball hitter. I was just trying to stick that down and away and it came back over. He's a good fastball hitter and I gave him the pitch to drive out. Hats off to him."
Entering the game, Cishek had allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings (0.71 ERA) at Marlins Park. Gattis doubled that total with one swing.
The catcher has been tough on the Marlins all season. Atlanta has won six of 10 from Miami this season, and in three of those games, Gattis has provided the game-winning hit in the late innings.
"That's a big home run there -- in this ballpark off that reliever," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That doesn't happen very often. The matchup didn't favor us there. I haven't seen it yet. But it looked like Cishek got the ball up in the strike zone a little bit, and Gattis made him pay for it and got it out of the deepest part of the ballpark."
The Marlins entered the series tied for first with the Braves, but now they trail by three games after losing their fourth straight game at home. Miami is now 28-28 and has lost five of six at Marlins Park.
"It was a tough series. We didn't play the best," manager Mike Redmond said. "There are a lot of areas where we need to get better, but I think it shows you what we need to do to be able to take that next step. We need to play better. We know we can play with these guys. Every guy in that clubhouse believes that. But we have some work to do. We've got to get better in a bunch of different areas."
The Marlins took an early lead on Marcell Ozuna's two-run homer in the second inning, but they managed little after that.
They mounted a bit of a threat in the ninth, with Ozuna singling to open the inning, but Adeiny Hechavarria bounced into a 6-4-3 double play. With two outs, Jeff Mathis walked and pinch-hitter Reed Johnson singled off rookie Shae Simmons.
Simmons closed the game out when Christian Yelich, on a 2-0 pitch, bounced to short.
The tough loss overshadowed a strong eight-inning outing from Nathan Eovaldi, who won his previous two starts and certainly threw well enough to run the string to three in a row.
Eovaldi worked a season-high eight innings, giving up two runs on six hits with four strikeouts. The right-hander, who three times this season reached as many as seven innings, was lifted after 98 pitches in a no-decision.
"I feel like this is the best I've located my fastball all season," Eovaldi said. "I felt like my slider was pretty consistent as well. I was able to attack the batters today. It was big. The bullpen was taxed a bit. I was trying to attack and get quick outs."
Eovaldi added that he felt he could have thrown the ninth, but the decision was made to go with Cishek, who has been one of the top relievers of the season.
"It's always a tough decision," Redmond said. "I had the same decision the other night with Tom Koehler in a 2-1 game. We let him pitch and it didn't work."
Atlanta's Aaron Harang, tagged for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings at Marlins Park on April 30, limited Miami to two runs in 6 2/3 innings on Sunday.
The Marlins seized an early lead on Ozuna's two-run homer. Garrett Jones doubled to lead off the second, and Ozuna connected on a breaking ball for his 10th home run of the season.
The Miami center fielder joins Giancarlo Stanton (16) as Marlins with double-digit homers.
But the lead was short-lived.
The Braves strung together three singles in the third inning, and they pulled even at 2 when B.J. Upton was credited with an RBI on a fieder's-choice grounder. Tommy La Stella and Andrelton Simmons each singled, and Jason Heyward floated an RBI single to center. Eovaldi was nearly able to keep the score at 2-1 when he got Upton to bounce over the mound for what could have been an inning-ending double-play ball.
Derek Dietrich fielded the chopper and got the out at second, but he bounced his throw to first, allowing Upton to reach safely. Because you can't assume the double play, no error was awarded.
"We had the momentum and then come back out and give up two hits right away, gave up a couple of runs," Redmond said. "One play at second base that was a potential double play. That play has got to be made."