Braves 7, Marlins 2

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MIAMI (AP)—The Atlanta Braves accomplished two feats Sunday: They won a series from the Florida Marlins for the second weekend in a row, and they scored against Dontrelle Willis.

Mark DeRosa homered for the first earned run off Willis this season, and J.D. Drew’s bases-loaded triple off Tommy Phelps. broke a tie in the seventh inning to help the Braves win 7-2.

Atlanta took two of three games in the series and is 5-1 against the Marlins as both teams head west this week.

“It’s a big game for us,” DeRosa said. “It’s real early in the season, but it’s a game that puts us on the flight to San Francisco with a smile on our face.”

Florida is 11-1 in its other games, against Philadelphia and Montreal. The Marlins still lead the NL East, with the Braves two games back.

“They’re not beating the heck out of us,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “I don’t think anybody’s intimidated. They’re getting the breaks, and we’re not.”

Willis, who won his first three starts, departed after six innings with the score 2-all. His ERA rose to 0.71, and he went 0-for-2 at the plate to drop his batting average to .545.

“I definitely wasn’t at my best, and they did a great job exploiting it,” he said. “I did the best I could to keep us in the ballgame.”

Atlanta quickly blew it open once he left. DeRosa led off the seventh with a single against Nate Bump (0-1), Andruw Jones doubled and Julio Franco was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Drew greeted Phelps with a drive to the wall in center field and scored when second baseman Luis Castillo mishandled the relay. The triple improved Drew’s average to .150 (3-for-20) with runners in scoring position.

“Anytime you get into the bullpen, you never know what’s going to happen,” Drew said. “Dontrelle is definitely a tough guy to face, so it’s nice to get him out of the game.”

DeRosa also had three RBIs, scored twice and went 3-for-4. John Thomson (2-1) allowed eight hits and two runs in seven innings.

Willis allowed no earned runs in his first 19 2-3 innings this season, but that streak ended with a homer by the second batter, DeRosa.

The Braves scored again in the second inning on a single by Johnny Estrada, a walk to Rafael Furcal and a two-out single by DeRosa.

Willis threw 52 pitches in the first two innings but trailed only 2-0 because he stranded four runners. He pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.

“It was one of those games where I was just erratic early,” he said.

Juan Pierre went 4-for-5 for Florida. He tripled with two out in the fifth and scored on Castillo’s single.

Teammate Alex Gonzalez earned his first RBI in 56 at-bats this season with atwo-out single in the second.

Notes

1B Julio Franco didn’t accompany the Braves to San Francisco. He has been battling an inner-ear infection, plans to see a specialist in South Florida and hopes to join the team Monday night. … DeRosa’s homer was the first earned run allowed by Willis in 27 2-3 innings dating back to Sept. 23. … Marlins RHP Carl Pavano departed before the game to catch a flight to Colorado, where he’s scheduled to start Monday. … Three-fourths of the Big Red Machine’s infield attended the game: Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion and Tony Perez, a Marlins executive.

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