Marlins ace Jose Fernandez returned just in time to cool off the Braves but his team’s bullpen couldn’t stop them from continuing their surge.
Braves second baseman Jace Peterson tied the game with a two-run homer in the eighth inning and then knocked a go-ahead RBI single in the 10th for a 3-2 victory. The Braves (24-46) extended their season-long winning streak to six games and improved to 4-0 this season at Marlins Park.
“Everybody is having fun,” Peterson said. “It seems like it’s somebody different every night. Really, we’ve just got a good thing going on right now and it’s fun to come to the ball park. We are not dwelling on the start to the season. We’ve still got a lot of ball games to play and we are just going to give it hell and see what happens.”
Fernandez limited the Braves to one hit over seven shutout innings. The Braves trailed 2-0 when they finally broke through against reliever David Phelps in the eighth inning.
Emilio Bonifacio led off with a single and, after Adonis Garcia struck out, Peterson smashed Phelps’ first pitch out to right field for his first homer of the season.
“It was almost like I could feel the dugout, when he hit that ball, it’s like, All right boys, we are back in this thing,’” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said.
Braves reliever Chris Withrow (2-0) retired the Marlins in order in the ninth before Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough (3-2) walked Chase d’Arnaud to begin the 10th. After Bonifacio’s sacrifice advanced d’Arnaud, Barraclough struck out pinch hitter Jeff Francoeur.
With Peterson due up, Marlins manager called on Mike Dunn to replace Barraclough. Dunn’s wild pitch moved d’Arnaud to third and then Peterson hit a sharp single to left to put the Braves ahead for the first time.
“Runner on third and two outs, I’m just trying to get a hit and extend the game,” Peterson said. “He threw me a fastball that got a little bit of the plate. I was able to put a good swing on it and we won the ballgame.”
Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki led off the bottom of the 10th with an infield single against Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino. Martin Prado followed with a walk before Vizcaino struck out Christian Yelich, Gincarlo Stanton and Chris Johnson to preserve the victory.
Miami’s bullpen squandered a dominant outing by Fernandez, who limited the Braves to five base runners over seven innings and struck out seven. He entered the game leading the majors in strikeouts per nine innings and ranked among the top 10 in ERA, wins and hits allowed per nine innings.
The Marlins skipped Fernandez’s last start in an effort to limit his innings during his first full season back from Tommy John elbow surgery. In his previous start Fernandez had an eight-game winning streak snapped when he allowed four runs over six innings at the Diamondbacks.
Fernandez wasn’t sharp early against the Braves, either, and needed 26 pitches to get out of the first inning. Fernandez retired the first two Braves hitters before walking Freddie Freeman on six pitches and giving up an infield single to Nick Markakis.
A.J. Pierzynski hit a sharp line drive but third baseman Martin Prado needed to move only a couple of steps to his left to snag the ball, save the run and end the inning. That ended up being the only good scoring chance the Braves generated against Fernandez, who allowed just three more base runners the rest of the way.
“He was good all night,” Peterson said. “We weren’t really able to get on him. He was mixing up pitches, attacking the zone. He got in a little trouble but he was able to get out of it.”
Braves right-hander Bud Norris (2-8) was effective while allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings. Norris allowed an RBI single to Fernandez in the second inning and gave up a run-scoring single with two outs to No. 8 hitter Adeiny Hechavarria in the fourth.
Five Braves relievers held the Marlins scoreless over 4 2/3 innings.
“With the way we’ve been playing recently, it’s been a lot of fun,” Norris said. “Nice off day (Monday) but I knew today was going to be a tough one with Jose over there and runs were going to come at a premium. This is a big team win for us. We’ve got a good thing going right now and we want to keep it going.”