After coming up short in tight games during the first two months of the season, the Atlanta Braves may have finally figured out how to win the close ones. The Florida Marlins, meanwhile, are beginning to lose them.
The Braves look to win their third straight game over the slumping Marlins when their four-game set continues Wednesday at Turner Field.
After coming from behind to win Monday’s series opener 7-5 in 10 innings, Atlanta’s Greg Norton drove in the tying and game-winning runs with a double in the eighth in Tuesday’s 5-4 victory.
The Braves improved to 3-16 in one-run games, and pulled within one game of second-place Florida (31-26) in the NL East.
The Marlins had a 2 1/2-game lead atop the division on May 26, but have lost six of seven to fall 2 1/2 games back of first-place Philadelphia. Five of those losses have been by two runs or less.
“Close games are tough,” said Florida’s Dan Uggla, who hit two home runs on Tuesday and is among the league leaders with 18. “We won a lot of close games in April.”
While the Braves have struggled to win the close games, they rarely have trouble winning at Turner Field. Atlanta is an NL-best 24-7 at home, winning nine of its last 11 there.
Chipper Jones hit a three-run homer Tuesday, the 399th of his career, and finished 2-for-4 to raise his major league-leading batting average to .409. Jones is 15-for-27 (.556) with four home runs, seven RBIs and seven runs in seven games against the Marlins this season.
Atlanta’s Tom Glavine (2-2, 4.56) takes the mound to face Florida for the first time since a very forgettable final day of the 2007 regular season.
Pitching for the New York Mets with the NL East title on the line, the 11-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer never made it out of the first inning. He recorded only one out as he was tagged for seven runs in the Mets’ 8-1 loss, and Philadelphia ended up winning the division by one game.
It was the last game in a Mets uniform for Glavine, who went on to sign as a free agent with the Braves, the team with which he broke into the majors in 1987.
His second stint with Atlanta has been inconsistent. The left-hander gave up two runs and five hits in six innings of a 3-2, 11-inning loss to Cincinnati on Friday after yielding six runs and six walks in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-3 loss to Arizona on May 25.
The 305-game winner is 17-19 with a 4.03 ERA in 48 career starts versus the Marlins, and has only two wins in his last 17 starts against them.
The Marlins counter with Mark Hendrickson (7-3, 5.27 ERA), trying to bounce back from one of the worst starts of his career.
Hendrickson was pounded for 10 runs, seven hits and three walks in a season-low 3 2-3 innings of a 12-3 loss to Philadelphia on Friday. He matched a career high and a Florida franchise record for runs allowed, as his ERA jumped by more than a point from 4.14.
The left-hander won his only start against the Braves this season on April 16, giving up three runs—two earned—in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-5 victory.
Yunel Escobar homered off Hendrickson in that game and is 5-for-6 lifetime against him. Escobar hit the game-winning home run in the 10th inning on Monday.