It wasn't that long ago that the Braves seemed like a lock to be playing baseball in October. However, a miserable September has changed all of that.
Coming off their second late-inning loss in a row, Atlanta hopes to boost its playoff hopes tonight and avoid a third straight defeat in the middle contest of a three-game set with the Florida Marlins.
The Braves seemed on their way to moving closer to the clinching the National League Wild Card spot after Omar Infante's error in the seventh inning keyed a four-run frame for the Braves. Infante would get his revenge as Emilio Bonifacio reached base safely on a infield hit when Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones lost the high chopper in the lights of Sun Life Stadium.
That set the stage for Infante, who belted a game-winning two-run homer off Craig Kimbrel and his former team for Florida's third victory in four games.
"Omar has done a fantastic defensive job all year, probably the best second baseman in the league defensively," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "I'm just glad to see him come back, redeem himself."
Atlanta has now lost seven of 10 and 12 of its past 18. Its lead for the league's final playoff berth fell to 2 1/2 games over the Cardinals after they beat the Braves on Monday.
The crushing defeat came one day after the Braves blew an eighth-inning lead to the Mets. It was also their first loss in seven games in Miami this year, though they still lead the season series with the Marlins, 11-5.
"It's a funny game. Just when you think you've got it figured out, it'll kick you in the gut," Jones said.
Dan Uggla homered for the fifth time against his former Marlins club this year and has 35 homers on the season. Infante was one of the players Atlanta sent to Florida for the second baseman.
Stanton will try to snap his tie with Cabrera tonight against Randall Delgado, who has given up one run in three of his first five career starts, but is still searching for his first major league win.
Delgado has not gotten a decision since losing his first start on June 17 and will make his fourth start of September. He faced the Marlins for the first time on Wednesday and gave up a run on four hits and two walks over five innings of a game his team won, 4-1.
Atlanta did not score until the seventh inning after the 21-year-old righty was out of the game. He has a 3.24 earned run average on the season.
The Braves will try to rough up Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez again tonight after he was drilled for five runs over just 1 2/3 innings when he last faced the franchise on Aug. 10. Sanchez is 4-9 with a 5.09 ERA in his career when facing Atlanta.
The 27-year-old righty has allowed four earned runs over his last four starts, but followed up a one-hit shutout in Pittsburgh on Sept. 10 with a loss at Philadelphia on Thursday. Sanchez yielded two runs on four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 3-1 defeat.
He fell to 8-8 on the season with a 3.62 ERA.