On a night when our starting pitcher couldn't snap off a good fastball, and then heard his groin snap, the Braves would consider themselves lucky to try and fight back after falling behind by five runs. Well it wasn't luck; it was some great two out hitting that did the trick. Kyle Davies was not sharp on the night, and it may have been the groin that was causing him discomfort dating back to his last start.
The two out hitting got started with the first rally in the bottom of the fifth inning. After Orr and Giles reached on infield singles, and Renteria struck out and Chipper flied out, Andruw and McCann each came through with run scoring singles. But it was the next inning when the Braves really made their comeback.
In the bottom of the sixth, once Florida starter Josh Johnson had exited the game after throwing over 100 pitches, the Braves took advantage of the weak Marlins bullpen. Langerhans and Jordan got things started with singles, then LaRoche and Giles each flied out. But two outs were all the Braves needed to signal their willingness to rally for the second time. Renteria singled, Chipper walked, Andruw singled to tie it at five, and after a pitching change, the best catcher in baseball stepped to the plate and slugged a three run homerun over the right field wall. Said McCann after the game of his league leading .352 batting average:
In the top of the seventh, a poor outing from usually reliable Oscar Villarreal led to two walks and a Mike Jacobs homerun. But that was just the incentive the Braves needed for their third rally of the evening. And once again it was the two out hitting and run scoring that keyed the rally. LaRoche doubled and watched from second as Giles flied out and Renteria struck out. Chipper drew another walk, and then Andruw came through with a run scoring single, then McCann, then Francoeur. McCann was thrown out trying to advance as the throw from the outfield was cut-off, but the Braves had all the runs they would need.
Mike Remlinger came on in the eighth, and continued the good work that the bullpen, except for Villarreal, had done. Remlinger had a 1-2-3 inning, and Reitsma came on in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning. By the way, Reitsma looked great, getting all three batters he faced to ground out to the infield (with Giles making some terrific plays to his left).
The reason the Braves had a chance to come back at all was the terrific work from newly recalled relief pitcher Chad Paronto. After he gave up a run in his first appearance up from the Minors, he has been spotless since, and Monday night was extra special. He relieved the injured Davies in the third, and got the Marlins 1-2-3. He retired the Marlins again in the fourth 1-2-3. And the only hit he allowed was a two out double to Braves killer Mike Jacobs in the fifth, an inning in which he struck out the side. All told, he had six strikeouts in his three innings of work. Bobby Cox had this to say about the work of Paronto:
I must say I can't remember a time when the Braves or any team scored 11 runs, all with two outs. Andruw Jones had a "get right" game with four singles and a walk. Brian McCann continues to prove he belongs in the fifth spot in the lineup with three hits and five RBIs. Oscar Villarreal had another vulture win to bring his record to 5 - 0.
The Braves will face Dontrelle Willis on Tuesday night at the Ted. He is coming off of three bad outings in a row, in which he has given up 7+ runs in each game, and lasted only two and two-thirds innings against the Braves in Florida last week. So keep thoses runs coming Dontrelle!
Florida 8, Atlanta 11 at Turner Field
Florida Record: (11-25)
Atlanta Record: (18-20)
Winning pitcher - Oscar Villarreal (5-0)
Losing pitcher - Randy Messenger (0-2)
SV - Chris Reitsma (7)