Braves 3, Marlins 1, first game; Marlins 5, Braves 1, second game
ATLANTA (AP)—Talk about two improbable pitching performances.
Just back from the minors, Florida’s Rick Vanden Hurk took a no-hitter into the seventh inning for his first career win Tuesday night. A few hours earlier, Atlanta’s Buddy Carlyle pitched one-hit ball over seven innings for his first victory since 1999, then was shipped back to the minors before he had time to celebrate.
The result was a doubleheader split, the Braves winning the opener 3-1 behind Carlyle before the Marlins rode the big Dutchman to a 5-1 victory in the nightcap.
“It felt great. It felt awesome,” said Vanden Hurk, who had been pitching at Double-A Carolina until he was activated between games.
Carlyle was feeling good, too—until being told right after the game that he was headed back to Triple-A Richmond. Unsure about the health of Game 2 starter John Smoltz, the Braves wanted extra depth in their bullpen, so they called up reliever Blaine Boyer.
“I can’t say I’m not disappointed,” Carlyle said. “We play the game to be in a clubhouse like this. Obviously, I’m disappointed. But there’s nothing I can do about it.”
While Carlyle was going down, Vanden Hurk was headed up.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander made his first start with the Marlins since April 24, when the Braves roughed him up for six runs in one-plus innings. In fact, he had made two of his four career appearances against Atlanta, giving up eight runs in 3 1-3 innings.
After being demoted to Carolina, Vanden Hurk worked on his mechanics and tempo. He was a totally different pitcher this time, holding the Braves without a hit through the first six.
“He had a lot of late life on his fastball,” Atlanta’s Matt Diaz said. “It was getting up on us. You could tell that by the way we were fouling it straight back. We didn’t make the adjustment to catch up to it.”
Yunel Escobar broke up the no-hitter with a double into the left-field corner leading off the seventh, and Vanden Hurk was lifted after he walked the next hitter.
Vanden Hurk said he wasn’t concerned about the no-hitter, though he knew something was up after the fifth.
“I thought I was doing pretty good,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about anything. I was just worrying about keeping guys off base.”
Smoltz, who left his last start with a sore shoulder, returned to the rotation after getting two extra days to recover. He pitched well, allowing just three hits and two runs in six innings, but the Braves couldn’t do anything with Vanden Hurk.
“I wasn’t as sharp as I’d like to be, but I’ll take two runs in six innings every time out,” Smoltz said. “The guy basically threw a no-hitter against us.”
Vanden Hurk (1-1) retired the first 11 Atlanta hitters before Edgar Renteria walked with two outs in the fourth. He was the only baserunner until Escobar, off to an impressive start in his first week with the Braves, lined a 1-1 pitch past third base for a clean hit.
The Braves managed only three hits.
Florida’s lone hit off Carlyle (1-1) was Aaron Boone’s third-inning homer, which stood until the seventh.
The Braves finally broke through with back-to-back homers, starting with Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run shot against Renyel Pinto (0-3). Five pitches later, pinch-hitter Chris Woodward went deep off Pinto, as well.
Carlyle winless drought was 7 years, 269 days—the longest among active pitchers until he was farmed out, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
If nothing else, Carlyle was much more appreciative of this win than the first one, which came when he was called up by San Diego at age 21. The Braves are his seventh organization, and that doesn’t even include two years spent in Japan.
“When you’re young and stupid, you don’t realize how fortunate you are to be up here,” the 29-year-old said. “This win means 10,000 times more than the other one. I know what a privilege it is to play at this level.”
The Marlins managed just two hits in the opener. Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect eighth around a 26-minute rain delay, and Bob Wickman worked the ninth for his 10th save in 12 chances, giving up Florida’s other hit to Alfredo Amezaga.
Sergio Mitre, pitching with a sore right hamstring, gave the Marlins more than they hoped for by throwing five scoreless innings. He left after 58 pitches, allowing four hits, striking out three and extending his streak without allowing an earned run to 23 2-3 innings.
Carlyle walked three, but two of them were thrown out by Saltalamacchia attempting to steal second and the other was erased on a double play in the seventh.
“I didn’t throw a lot of great pitches,” Carlyle conceded. “They hit some line drives that were right at somebody. Salty made a couple of nice throws from behind the plate. And that was a big double play in the seventh. I was laboring a little bit.”
Game 1, which was the makeup of an April 14 rainout, finished in sunshine after heavy rains and lightning struck suddenly in the eighth. … The Braves hit back-to-back homers for the second time this season. … Cabrera left Game 2 in the seventh after his right hamstring tightened while running the bases. He hobbled to the dugout and was listed as day to day. Manager Fredi Gonzalez already was planning to give his slugger Wednesday off and hopes he will be ready to go after that.