BRAVES 5, MARLINS 4 11 INNINGS
By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA — B.J. Upton has been through too many hitless nights to call one big game a turnaround for his season.
Even so, it was a good sign for Upton and for the Braves who are looking for the outfielder to gain momentum for the postseason.
Upton had four hits, including the game-winning single in the 11th inning, and Atlanta beat the Miami Marlins 5-4 for its sixth straight win on Saturday night.
“It’s a start,” Upton said.
Upton, who entered the game hitting only .186, had a two-run homer and three singles after striking out in his first two at-bats. The homer was his first since June 15.
“I’ve been working hard all year and I’m finally starting to see some consistent results,” Upton said. “I’ve just got to keep playing and keep working hard and stick to what I’m doing.”
With one out in the 11th, Chris Johnson singled up the middle for his fourth hit. Johnson moved to second on Brian McCann’s groundout before being replaced by pinch-runner Paul Janish.
With two outs, Ryan Webb (1-5) walked Dan Uggla, bringing Upton to the plate.
“I saw two sliders and a fastball,” Upton said. “The pitch I hit was a slider. I just saw it out over the plate and I didn’t miss it.”
Luis Ayala (1-1) pitched a scoreless 11th.
Justin Ruggiano hit a two-run homer in the first and Giancarlo Stanton also homered for Miami, which has lost six straight.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Uggla and Upton, each hitting below .200, have been the hitters to target in Atlanta’s lineup.
“Out of that whole lineup, you get down to those guys, you’ve got to make those guys beat you and tonight they did,” Redmond said.
The NL East-leading Braves extended their lead over Washington to 15 games.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said it’s not too late for Upton to salvage his long season if he can enter the playoffs with confidence.
“The first couple of months of the season he’s had tough months, but nobody remembers what happened in April, May and June if everything goes well,” Gonzalez said.
Stanton’s homer in the fourth gave Miami a 3-1 lead.
Jacob Turner, who tied a Marlins record with three errors, couldn’t hold the lead. Turner walked McCann to open the sixth before giving up Upton’s tying homer to center field.
Ruggiano led off the seventh with a single and scored on Logan Morrison’s single. The Braves pulled even at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh when Johnson hit a two-out double off Mike Dunn and scored on McCann’s single. Johnson finished with four hits.
Turner’s first error came in the first inning when he couldn’t handle Morrison’s throw to first base, allowing Jordan Schafer to reach. Schafer stole second, moved to third on Elliot Johnson’s sacrifice and scored on Freddie Freeman’s line drive to left field.
Turner had two errors on one play in the fifth. With Mike Minor on first base following a single, Turner mishandled Schafer’s bunt for an error and threw wild to first, allowing Minor to advance to third.
The Braves loaded the bases on Turner’s intentional walk to Freeman, but Chris Johnson’s popup to Ed Lucas at second base ended the inning.
Miami players had drawn 38 walks in the past 11 games, but none of those 38 base runners scored. That streak of futility ended in the first inning when Stanton walked with two outs and scored on Ruggiano’s homer into the right-field seats.
Elliot Johnson, making only his second start of the season in left field, sprinted toward center field before making a diving catch of Placido Polanco’s sinking liner in the fourth. Johnson charged to make another diving catch of Donovan Solano’s liner to open the 10th.
Turner gave up three runs, two earned, and four hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Minor allowed four runs and five hits and one walk in seven innings.
NOTES: Gary Sheffield is the only other Marlins player to have three errors in a game — on Sept. 30, 1993, while playing third base against Montreal. ... Redmond said the team will hold firm to a 170-innings limit for RHP Jose Fernandez, who is at 158 2-3 innings. Fernandez may have only two more starts before he is shut down. The Marlins pushed back Fernandez’s next start from Wednesday at the Cubs to Friday at home against the Nationals. ... The Braves recalled OF Jose Constanza from Triple-A Gwinnett to replace C-OF Evan Gattis, who was optioned to Gwinnett following Friday night’s game. The Braves plan to recall Gattis after Gwinnett’s season ends on Monday. ... LF Justin Upton, who missed his second straight start with a bruised left wrist, grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the 10th.
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