Braves end losing streak with 6-4 win over Marlins

Miami Marlins' catcher Jorge Alfaro looks on as Braves' Ender Inciarte (right) is congratulated by teammate Freddie Freeman after hitting a home run during the sixth inning Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Miami. (Jim Rassol/AP)

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Miami Marlins' catcher Jorge Alfaro looks on as Braves' Ender Inciarte (right) is congratulated by teammate Freddie Freeman after hitting a home run during the sixth inning Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Miami. (Jim Rassol/AP)

After losing four consecutive games by a total of five runs, the Braves got a much-needed win Sunday.

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They relieved some tension by scoring three runs in the first inning and building a 5-0 lead by the fifth, then held on for a 6-4 win over the Miami Marlins.

So ended a six-game road trip on which the Braves won the first and last games and lost the four in between, two in Philadelphia and two in Miami.

“We had heartbreaking losses in Philly, and things didn’t really go our way the first couple of games of this (Miami) series,” said Drew Smyly, the winning pitcher Sunday on his 32nd birthday. “But … we keep battling back, and eventually I think this team will get over that hump.”

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Braves starting pitcher Drew Smyly comments on his execution of pitches and the end of Atlanta's losing streak in Miami.

The Braves (30-33) are five games behind the first-place New York Mets and two games behind the second-place Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East. After an off day Monday, the Braves will open a six-game homestand Tuesday at Truist Park, starting with a two-game series against Boston and finishing with a four-game series against St. Louis.

At least they won’t open the homestand on a losing streak, thanks to Sunday’s victory.

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“It’s huge -- huge,” manager Brian Snitker said of the win. “This is a good one to end (the trip) on … because I’ve got to feel like those two (walk-off losses) in Philly took a lot out of these guys, took a lot out of me and everybody. So it was nice to end the road trip on a good note.”

“With the off-day, being able to sit on a win and have that confidence going into a homestand, it’s huge,” third baseman Austin Riley said.

Riley’s play epitomized what happened with the Braves over the past week. He had a combined six hits in the first and last games of the trip, but no hits in the other four games. On Sunday against the Marlins, he broke out of a 0-for-17 slump by going 3-for-3 with a home run, a walk, three RBIs and two runs scored. He attributed all of that to a minor mechanical adjustment with his front elbow.

“It’s frustrating,” Riley said of his mini-slump, “but at the same time it’s going to happen. I think as I mature more as a ballplayer and learn how to deal with that, the biggest thing is just not hitting the panic button, staying even keel.”

Braves 6, Marlins 4 (box score)

Sunday’s game opened well for the Braves with the three-run first-inning rally against Marlins starter Pablo Lopez. Riley, dropped from fourth to fifth in the batting order for the game, came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded. He singled to center field to drive in the first two runs, and a third run scored in the inning when Guillermo Heredia was hit by a pitch with the bases again loaded.

The Braves added a run on an opposite-field homer by Riley in the third inning and another on an RBI by catcher Kevan Smith in the fifth for a 5-0 lead. The Marlins cut into the lead by scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth against Smyly, who allowed no other runs in his five innings of work.

“I thought I was driving the ball well today and mixing speeds really well, and my cutter over the last two-three-four games has started to get better,” Smyly said.

A leadoff homer by Ender Inciarte in the sixth inning off Marlins reliever Ross Detwiler — just the fifth homer of Inciarte’s career against a left-handed pitcher — made the score 6-2. The Marlins tightened the game with two runs in the seventh, both charged to A.J. Minter, but Chris Martin pitched a scoreless eighth and Will Smith a scoreless ninth to send the Braves home with a win.