ATLANTA (AP)Pablo Lopez delivered big in a must-win situation, even after a long rain delay gave the right-hander and the Miami Marlins more time to think about what was at stake.
Jon Berti had three hits, including a two-run double, Lopez allowed only two hits in five scoreless innings and the Marlins beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 on Thursday night to boost their playoff hopes.
Miami snapped a four-game losing streak. The Marlins (29-28) are competing for a wild-card spot as they try to reach the playoffs for the first time since winning the World Series in 2003.
”It means a lot,” Lopez said. ”Obviously, every game is important in a short season like this one, but we knew coming into this one today this was the biggest one so far.”
The Marlins can control their playoff status when they close the regular season with three game at the New York Yankees. Marlins manager Don Mattingly says every game carries added pressure.
”Its just tough, I’m telling you,” Mattingly said. ”… These are stressful games. I don’t think there’s any getting around it.”
The Braves ended their four-game winning streak and were denied a chance to clinch the NL’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Dansby Swanson’s bases-loaded single off Brandon Kintzler in the eighth drove in two runs. Kintzler worked around a one-out walk to Freddie Freeman in the ninth to earn his sixth save.
The Braves scored a combined 25 runs in winning the first three games of the series. Atlanta committed a season-high four errors.
Lopez (6-4) had six strikeouts and two walks.
Braves rookie right-hander Ian Anderson (3-2) threw five scoreless innings before giving up three unearned runs in the sixth. Brian Anderson opened the inning with a broken-bat liner. Third baseman Adeiny Hechavarria dropped the liner for an error as the barrel of the bat landed a few feet away.
A single by Garrett Cooper left runners at first and third. Anderson struck out Matt Joyce and Miguel Rojas before Chad Wallach’s single to right field drove in Anderson. Berti’s two-run double knocked Anderson out of the game.
Anderson said he still considered it a good final warmup for his expected start in the second game of the playoffs.
”I thought it was good,” Anderson said. ”I stayed on the attack all night and was pounding the zone, getting weak content and good results. Definitely happy with how it went.”
Jesus Aguilar homered off A.J. Minter in the seventh.
After already clinching its third straight division title, Atlanta’s focus is on preparing its rotation for the postseason after Max Fried tweaked his left ankle on Wednesday night. Tests on Fried’s ankle were negative on Thursday, raising hopes he’ll be ready to start Game 1 of the wild-card series.
The Braves will play the full wild-card series at Truist Park, beginning on Wednesday. Manager Brian Snitker said ”I think everybody feels it’s a realistic possibility” that Fried will have sufficient time to recover.
Fried’s injury came one day after the Braves learned Cole Hamels is done for the season. He made only one start after battling shoulder issues all year.
The Braves lost No. 1 starter Mike Soroka last month to a season-ending torn right Achilles tendon. Former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb were demoted due to poor performance.
Marlins: RHP Josh Smith was placed on the 10-day IL with fractured nail, ending his season. RHP Nick Neidert was optioned to the team’s alternate training site. OF Magneuris Sierra was reinstated from the 10-day IL and LHP Dan Castano was recalled.
Braves: 3B Austin Riley was held out for the second straight day to rest a minor quadriceps injury. Snitker said Riley said he was ready to play Thursday. Hechavarria committed two errors in his second straight start.
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 39 minutes by rain. The long wait helped to avoid rescheduling the game for Monday – the first day after the scheduled end of the regular season. There was more rain and wind during the game.
Swanson was charged with his second error of the season on a throw to first.
”That ball was hard to get ahold of,” Snitker said. ”… Coming off that grass, it was pretty slick. It was a tough night especially early. Everything was wet and both teams did a good job of not letting it get to them.”
2021 ALL-STAR LOGO UNVEILED
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred unveiled the logo for the 2021 All-Star Game, to be played at Truist Field, in a video presentation before the game.
Marlins: Miami opens a weekend series at the Yankees on Friday night when RHP Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.12) starts.
Braves: Atlanta opens a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox on Friday night with RHP Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.74) making his eighth start.
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