The Atlanta Braves missed out on their first opportunity to clinch the NL East falling flat in a 4-0 loss to the Miami Marlins Monday night.
The Marlins jumped out to an early lead thanks to a couple of errors and some soft contact that found its way through Atlanta’s defense. Jon Berti led off the inning with a single, stole second base and advanced to third as William Contreras’ throw down bounced away from Dansby Swanson. After Joey Wendle bounced back to Elder for the first out, Bryan de la Cruz doubled to right center to make it 1-0. Avisail Garcia then hit a slow roller to second that Orlando Arcia fumbled for the second error of the inning. Jesus Sanchez made them pay with a double down the left field line to score De La Cruz to make it 2-0. Elder recovered and got Nick Fortes and JJ Bleday to pop out to end the inning with no further damage.
Elder retired the side in order in the second, but again ran into trouble in the third. Joey Wendle singled to start the inning and de la Cruz struck again with a two-run home run to right-center to extend the lead to 4-0.
There wasn’t much to report for the Braves offensively against Jesus Luzardo in the first four innings. Atlanta got two on in the first as Ronald Acuña Jr. reached on an error and Dansby Swanson followed with a broken bat single. However, Luzardo struck out the next three hitters to leave them stranded.
Luzardo retired the side in order in the second. Robbie Grossman led off the third with a single but another strikeout and a double play got him out of the inning. Michael Harris II worked a walk to start the fourth, but was left stranded after strikeouts by Austin Riley and Matt Olson and a ground out by Travis d’Arnaud.
Atlanta got a one out double by Arcia in the fifth, but Grossman lined out to right center and Acuña struck out to end the inning. Elder came back out for the fifth and retired the side in order striking out Wendle and Garcia while getting De La Cruz to ground out.
Luzardo came back out for the sixth and allowed a leadoff double to Swanson, but then came back and struck out Michael Harris, Austin Riley and Olson to end the inning.
Elder exited after the fifth having allowed six hits and four runs over five innings. He struck out five while throwing 98 pitches. Tyler Matzek replaced Elder for the sixth and allowed a single to Sanchez and a walk to Miguel Rojas, but nothing else.
Luzardo gave way to the Marlins bullpen for the seventh. He turned in one of his best starts of the season allowing four hits and a walk over six scoreless frames. He tied a career high with 12 strikeouts.
Even with Luzardo out of the game, the Braves were still unable to get the offense going as Jeff Brigham retired the side in order in the seventh. Bryan Hoeing worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Richard Bleier retired Harris, Riley and Olson in the ninth to end the game.
Atlanta falls to 100-60 on the season and their lead in the NL East is down to 1.5 games after the Mets were rained out Monday night. The Braves haven’t announced their pitching plan for Tuesday, but the Marlins will go with left-hander Braxton Garrett.