Marlins pound Hanson, hand Braves another loss
They’re not giving up on the playoffs, either.
Maybin homered on the first pitch of the game, Logan Morrison(notes) followed with his first career homer and Chris Volstad(notes) pitched eight strong innings to lead the Marlins past the slumping Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Friday night.
Florida has won eight of 10 to close within 7 1/2 games of the NL East-leading Braves, though the wild card is probably more realistic.
“We’ve got 35 games left,” Maybin said. “I know everybody in here is thinking about it. We’re playing some good baseball. We’re not counting ourselves out until the season is over.”
The Braves have lost four in a row, their worst slump since a nine-game skid in April. The last two defeats have been especially ugly—Atlanta squandered a 10-1 lead at Colorado and fell 12-10, then got blown out after Florida started a game with back-to-back homers for the first time in franchise history.
“I’m always ready to hit, especially against a guy like Tommy,” Maybin said. “He’s got a good fastball. You’ve got to be ready. You don’t want him to get ahead in the count.”
Turns out, Florida was just getting started against Hanson (8-10), who had endured a series of tough-luck losses but got just what he deserved in this one.
Morrison was up next, and he drove a 3-2 pitch into the center-field seats. The rookie outfielder was coming off a big series in New York, where his cancer-stricken father got to see him play big league games in person for the first time, and he kept up his hot hitting without his dad in the crowd.
“I’m sure he was watching,” Morrison said. “I’m sure it meant a lot to him to see me hit it—just to see me hit it hard.”
Hanson gave up two more runs in the second, including a run-scoring single by Volstad. A botched play by left fielder Eric Hinske(notes)—he lost a routine fly ball in the lights, then made a high throw to third for an error—led to an unearned run that made it 5-0 in the third.
The Marlins chased Hanson in the sixth, leading off with another pair of consecutive homers. Dan Uggla(notes) went the opposite way into the right-field seats for his 29th of the season and Gaby Sanchez(notes) followed with another drive to center for his 16th homer.
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox finally popped out of the dugout and made the slow walk to the mound while the crowd at Turner Field cheered sarcastically. Hanson gave up eight hits and seven runs (six earned), but those four homers were the real stunner. He had given up only eight long balls in 153 innings coming into the night.
Maybin set the tone.
“I know the guy’s an aggressive hitter but at the same time, it’s the first pitch of the game. And he hits it out,” Hanson said. “I never really got in the groove today. I never got anything going.”
Volstad (8-9) cruised with the big lead. The Braves pushed only one runner past second base until Jason Heyward(notes) homered in the eighth to break up the shutout bid. The right-hander allowed six hits, struck out three and didn’t walk anyone.
“To get those two quick runs, then two more the next inning is huge,” said Volstad, who is 4-1 since a stint in Triple-A. “Really, it just comes down to throwing strikes. I was getting ahead of the hitters.”
Heyward’s 15th homer at least snapped a miserable stretch for the Braves, who had been outscored 18-0 over their previous 13 innings going back to the Colorado debacle.
NOTES: Maybin left in the seventh after straining his left groin on a swing. He said it’s not too serious and he hopes to play Saturday. … Hanson had dominated Florida in three previous career starts, going 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA. … The Braves optioned LHP Mike Minor(notes) to their rookie team in the Gulf Coast League, but merely to go with an extra reliever until Minor makes his next scheduled start Tuesday against the New York Mets. RHP Craig Kimbrel(notes) was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and pitched a scoreless eighth. … Braves closer Billy Wagner(notes), who had not pitched in a week, came on in the ninth despite the six-run deficit. He picked up his 1,170th career strikeout, breaking a tie with Jesse Orosco for the most by a left-handed reliever.