Braves 4, Marlins 2
MIAMI (AP)—Jaret Wright’s performance was a gem—even by his high standards this season.
Wright (15-7) struck out five, walked one and hit a batter. The right-hander retired 22 of 25 batters through eight innings and took a shutout into the ninth, giving the crowd of 34,714 little to cheer about.
“He’s had some beauties, and this one ranks right up there,” manager Bobby Cox said. “He was dynamite.”
Wright came into the season with a lifetime record of 37-37. His victory total is a career high, and he has the most wins on an Atlanta staff that ranks second in the major leagues in ERA.
“He’s a totally different pitcher than the Jaret Wright we saw a few years ago,” Florida’s Mike Lowell said. “He was hitting that outside corner, and when it’s 95 or 96 mph, it’s tough.”
J.D. Drew put Atlanta ahead to stay, snapping a scoreless tie with an RBI double in the sixth off Josh Beckett (7-9). The Braves reduced the magic number to six for clinching the NL East crown, which would be their 13th straight division title.
Defending World Series champion Florida remained 4 1/2 games behind wild-card leader San Francisco. The Marlins have lost four of their past five, all at home.
“We don’t have room to have games like this, but we’re having them,” center fielder Juan Pierre said.
Before the latest loss, manager Jack McKeon predicted it would take at least 92 victories to win the NL wild card. That would mean his team must finish 15-1 or 16-0 to earn a playoff berth.
“As long as you’ve got a chance, you never know,” McKeon said. “We’d better getting rolling quick, though.”
Lowell was the only Florida player to reach base in the first eight innings. He had the Marlins’ first two hits—a flare to right field leading off the fifth, and a blooper to center in the eighth. Each time he was quickly erased on a double play.
Wright won for only the second time in nine career outings against the Marlins. He was the starting pitcher for Cleveland at Pro Player Stadium in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, when Florida beat the Indians.
“It’s nice to win here,” he said. “You’re going to think about it because of the memories.”
Bidding for his first complete game since 2000, Wright took a two-hitter into the ninth. But the right-hander departed after hitting a batter and allowing a single by Pierre.
The Braves broke through in the sixth. Rafael Furcal led off with his second infield single of the game, took second on a single by Marcus Giles and scored on Drew’s double. After Johnny Estrada was intentionally walked, Julio Franco’s groundout scored a run. Drew came home on a two-out wild pitch, and Andruw Jones singled in another run.
Beckett, pulled after six innings, declined to speak with reporters. He fell to 0-3 in three starts against Atlanta this season with an ERA of 7.27.
Atlanta has won four in a row against the Marlins, outscoring them 30-10. Florida had 13 hits Friday night but lost 8-1.
“This was a huge series for them, and we wanted to play well,” the Braves’ Chipper Jones said. “To take these first two in their ballpark, you have to feel good about that.”
Florida RHP A.J. Burnett, who missed his turn in the rotation Friday because of elbow inflammation, threw lightly Saturday and said he felt good. He might be available to pitch as early as Tuesday. … The Braves lead the season series 11-4. … Beckett fell to 2-7 lifetime against Atlanta.