ATLANTA – Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said Nate Eovaldi should learn a lesson from the worst start of his young career: It's tough to beat a hot-hitting team without throwing breaking balls for strikes.
Eovaldi gave up six runs in only two innings and Miami couldn't recover in a 6-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.
Making his second start since coming to Miami in the trade that sent Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers, Eovaldi (2-7) allowed eight hits with one walk and one hit batter. It was the shortest of his 18 career starts.
Eovaldi struggled with his changeup and slider, allowing Atlanta's hitters to wait for his fastball.
"They really just sat on the fastball, even the ones I located, and they hit it well," Eovaldi said. "It was just one of those nights.
"I felt like I never got in that good groove. Every time I felt like I was ahead, I didn't get guys out. They took all my off-speed pitches and just hit the fastballs really well."
Eovaldi yielded one run over 5 1-3 innings in a 4-2 win over San Diego in his Marlins debut on Saturday.
Guillen said the Braves' hitters are too hot to have the luxury of waiting for fastballs from Eovaldi.
"He only threw a few breaking balls for strikes and with that hitting ballclub they have, they're not missing too many fastballs," Guillen said.
"He was behind. His changeup was bad and his breaking ball was bad. To have a good game — especially against them, they're swinging the bats pretty good right now, and they've got a lot of lefty hitters — your breaking ball has to work."
Chad Gaudin followed Eovaldi with four scoreless innings, allowing one hit and a walk. Gaudin's innings were especially crucial for Miami's bullpen before Friday's doubleheader at Washington.
Dan Jennings added two scoreless innings.
"Once again, Gaudin went out there and pitched well for us," Guillen said. "The bullpen didn't let them score any runs. Great job. I didn't think we were going to make it, but those guys — they saved our bullpen."
Miami's Jose Reyes led off the sixth with a triple to left field, giving him a 20-game hitting streak to match his career high.
Reyes scored on Carlos Lee's sacrifice fly.
Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman each hit a two-run double as the Braves scored six runs in the first two innings.
The 40-year-old Jones had two hits and is batting .316 in his final season before retirement.
The Braves, 6-1 on their 10-game homestand, remained 2½ games behind first-place Washington in the NL East. They won three times in the four-game series.
The Braves led 6-0 when a 42-minute rain delay in the fourth inning spoiled Mike Minor's excellent opportunity for the win. He didn't return after the delay and didn't qualify.
The 24-year-old Minor gave up two hits in 3 2-3 scoreless innings.
"I think you're looking at a kid who has kind of realized what he is capable of doing," Jones said.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said protecting Minor's arm was the smart move.
"It's a situation when you always try to do the best for the young man," Gonzalez said. "We didn't think running him out there was prudent."
Jason Heyward had three hits and drove in a run for Atlanta.
Cristhian Martinez (5-2) took over for Minor when play resumed in the fourth. Martinez allowed four hits and one run in three innings.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel stranded two runners in the ninth, striking out Emilio Bonifacio to end the game.
The Braves sent nine batters to the plate in their three-run first. Following singles by Reed Johnson and Heyward, Jones hit a two-run double and scored on Dan Uggla's single.
"We hit some bullets and kind of set the tone," Jones said.
Eovaldi gave up three more runs in the second. The right-hander hit Johnson with a pitch after giving up a single to Michael Bourn. Heyward drove in Bourn with a single to left and Freeman added a two-run double to right.
The Marlins had a depleted bench for the game.
Third baseman Donnie Murphy was scratched from the starting lineup with flu-like symptoms. Outfielder Bryan Petersen was held out with a sore right shoulder he hurt while diving for a ball in Wednesday night's game. Outfielder Justin Ruggiano was out with back spasms.
Petersen walked as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
Gorkys Hernandez, acquired from the Pirates on Tuesday, was 0 for 4 in his first start for Miami in center field.
Jennings loaded the bases in the eighth on two walks and a hit batter. He escaped the jam but limped off the field after covering first base on Heyward's inning-ending grounder to first.
Guillen said Jennings wasn't hurt.
NOTES: Reyes also had a 20-game hitting streak in 2005 with the Mets. ... The Marlins will call up LHP Brad Hand from Triple-A New Orleans to pitch the first game of Friday's doubleheader at Washington. RHP Josh Johnson will start the second game.