The Toronto Blue Jays evened the series at a game apiece on Wednesday night at Turner Field, as they beat the Atlanta Braves 9-1 in a game that got out of hand quickly.
The train fell off the tracks from the start for Braves starter Shelby Miller, who was attempting to stop a 21-start winless streak. In the top of the first inning, Jose Bautista smoked a double to left-center field to score Ben Revere. Russell Martin followed an Edwin Encarnacion single with a two-run double down the line in left to score a pair of runs. Ryan Goins hit a sacrifice fly to center to end the scoring, a crushing four-run start to the game before the Braves even had a chance to hit.
Freddie Freeman cut the lead to 4-1 in the bottom half of the inning, but the damage was done. Atlanta never recovered.
Miller ran into more trouble in the fourth inning, and could not escape it. Revere drove in a run with a sac fly, but was followed by a two-out double from Josh Donaldson and a walk of Bautista. Sugar Ray Marimon was able to record the final out of the frame without further harm.
Miller finished the game with a line of 3.2 innings, seven hits, five runs (four earned), two walks, and three strikeouts. His streak was extended to 22 straight starts without a win, a franchise record. After a 5-1 start to the season, Miller has lost 14 decisions in a row, and rests with a 5-15 record as the Braves' best starting pitcher throughout the season.
"It's got to be tough as a young man to go through what he's going through," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after the game. "If he keeps sticking his nose to the grindstone, I think he'll be a better pitcher at the other end of it."
Marimon did not have the same success in the fifth inning, as he gave up two runs on a groundout from Cliff Pennington and a bloop single off the bat of Revere.
The Braves ran into disastrous misfortune in the fifth inning to virtually eliminate any hope of making a comeback from the 7-1 deficit. After Price issued back-to-back walks to start the inning, Nick Markakis sent a flare over Pennington's head at second base. Pennington was unable to catch the pop, but alertly grabbed the ball and fired it into second to force the first runner. The ball was quickly shuttled to third base and Christian Bethancourt was tagged out after sliding past the bag.
Markakis registered another multi-hit game, nearly duplicating his efforts from Tuesday night. He was 2-for-5 at the dish with a double and scored the lone run for Atlanta. Bethancourt had a stellar night with the stick as well, as he reached in all four of his plate appearances with three hits and a walk.
Hector Olivera was not in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game, but received an at-bat as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. He barreled a sharp fly ball to left that Revere had to leap in the air to corral. Adonis Garcia, Andrelton Simmons, and Cameron Maybin each went for the dubious hat trick. All three hitters were 0-for-4 on the night with a trio of strikeouts.
Danny Burawa and Ryan Kelly each pitched two innings to finish the game for the Braves and save the bullpen slightly. Martin homered off Kelly in the ninth to cap the scoring for the night.
For Toronto, David Price was outstanding once again for the Blue Jays, allowing just a run in seven innings of work. He scattered six hits and struck out nine to improve to 7-1 since coming over to Toronto and now has a 16-5 won-loss record for the year. Aaron Loup, Liam Hendriks, and Ryan Tepera combined to shut out Atlanta for the final two innings.
"You see Price elevate his stuff when he has to," Gonzalez said. "You see why he's successful."
Martin was the offensive star of the night, going 2-for-5 with a homer, four RBIs, and two runs scored. Revere knocked in a pair of runs as he went 2-for-4 at the plate. Encarnacion was on the base paths all five times he wielded a bat, with three hits and two walks.
The rubber game of the series takes place on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Atlanta will send Matt Wisler to the mound to face Marco Estrada, who has had a great season for Toronto.