The Marlins (25-37) opened the series with a 4-1 win behind rookie starter Josh Johnson on Tuesday. They rallied for a 6-5 win in 10 innings Wednesday when pinch-runner Reggie Abercrombie scored on reliever Mike Remlinger’s throwing error.
Helms also homered in the fourth and finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs for Florida, which is 8-3 in its last 11 home games since a 3-14 start.
“It’s June and we’re starting to win close games, we’re starting to come back and we’re starting to put away teams when we’re ahead,” said Helms, who filled in at first base for Mike Jacobs, who missed the game with sore ankle. “The difference in this team now is we feel we can win every game.”
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-3, 3.33 ERA) is slated to start for the Marlins in this contest. Nolasco has alternated wins and losses in his last four outings and is coming off a 3-2 defeat against San Diego on Friday in which he allowed three runs and struck out six in six innings.
“I left a few balls up over the plate and they made me pay, that’s what big leaguers do,” said Nolasco, who is 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA in five starts.
The 23-year-old converted reliever made his first major league start against the Braves on May 17 and gave up two unearned runs, five hits walked three and struck out two in 3 2-3 innings of Florida’s 6-4 loss in 11 innings.
Marcus Giles and Jeff Francoeur homered, and Matt Diaz had three hits Wednesday for the Braves (30-36), who got six solid innings from starter John Thomson before he exited with a blister on his right middle finger.
The loss dropped Atlanta—winners of 14 straight division titles—to 1-5 on its seven-game road trip and 3-13 in its last 16 games overall.
“They’re still going to keep playing out the season,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “You don’t know until the end.”
Jorge Sosa (1-8, 5.58) gets the start for Atlanta, though he hasn’t had much success of late.
Sosa has lost three straight decisions since he notched his lone win in a 9-1 decision over the Marlins on May 18 in which he struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings.
However, the right-hander gave up six runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-2 loss at Houston on Friday.
The defeat dropped Sosa to 0-6 with a 6.29 ERA on the road, numbers nearly opposite those of his breakout season a year ago when he went 9-0 with a 1.81 ERA on the road and 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA overall.
Sosa is 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA lifetime versus Florida.
Atlanta placed reliever Chris Reitsma on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a right elbow injury. Reitsma, 1-2 with a 9.11 ERA in 26 games, started the season as the team’s closer but lost the job when he blew four of his first 12 save opportunities.