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- Miami Marlins
- Chris Valaika
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By Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange April 10, 2013 10:20 PM
MIAMI -- Evan Gattis and Juan Francisco slugged home runs during the Braves' six-run fifth inning as Atlanta defeated the Miami Marlins 8-0 before 13,810 fans at Marlins Park on Wednesday. The first-place Braves (8-1) swept the last-place Marlins (1-8) in three games in a mismatched battle between NL East rivals. The win went to left-handed starter Mike Minor (2-0), who combined with two relief pitchers to toss a seven-hit shutout. Minor pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits, one walk and no runs, lowering his ERA to 0.69. Minor worked around leadoff doubles by Placido Polanco in the second inning and Chris Valaika in the third. He left with two out in the sixth and two runners on -- Donovan Solano and Polanco, both of whom had singled. Reliever Cory Gearrin came on to retire the next batter, Miguel Olivo, on a strikeout. Gearrin pitched 1 1/3 innings and was followed on the mound by Anthony Varvaro. The Marlins scored just two runs in the series and were shut out twice. The Braves' big fifth inning started when Jordan Schafer singled and stole second. He scored on Andrelton Simmons' single. After a walk by Jason Heyward, Gattis pulled an inside pitch that went an estimated 404 feet for a three-run homer to left. The barrage continued with a walk by Dan Uggla and Juan Francisco's massive two-run homer to center field that went an estimated 450 feet. He crushed a low pitch that was out over the plate, making the score 6-0. That was it for Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia, who had pitched four scoreless innings before running into major trouble. His final line: five innings, eight hits, three walks and six runs allowed on 81 pitches. His ERA went from 0.00 after six innings in his first start to 4.91. NOTES: The Braves acquired right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, 35, from the Baltimore Orioles. Ayala had a 2.40 ERA the past two years with the Orioles and Yankees. To get Ayala, the Braves traded Double-A left-hander Chris Jones, 24, who had a 3.90 ERA. ... The downward trend has already begun. The attendance of 13,810 bumped Tuesday's crowd of 14,222 as the smallest in the history of Marlins Park, the retractable-dome stadium that made its debut last year. ... Miami's Chris Valaika made the start at first base Wednesday. The 27-year-old Californian, who normally plays third, shortstop and second, said he had never previously tried first base -- not even in Little League. ... Braves center fielder B.J. Upton, who started Atlanta's first eight games, was not in Wednesday's lineup. Schafer replaced him in center, and Simmons returned to the leadoff spot in the batting order. Upton is batting just .103 and was 0 for 9 in the first two games of the Marlins series. ... Schafer had only one at-bat this season entering Wednesday. ... The Marlins' 16 runs entering Wednesday were the fewest in the majors. That total is also just two more than former Marlins catcher John Buck had driven in all by himself.