The Miami Marlins were able to prevent the Atlanta Braves from extending their winning streak to 15 straight games. On Sunday, the NL East's last-place club has a chance to pick up a series victory over the division leaders in the finale of a three-game series at Turner Field.
The Marlins looked as though they would waste another solid outing by Nathan Eovaldi in Saturday's meeting as the game was scoreless heading into the ninth inning. That is when Adeiny Hechavarria opened the frame with a triple off of Braves reliever Jordan Walden, who then unleashed a wild pitch that allowed the Marlins shortstop to score.
Steve Cishek worked around a one-out single in the ninth to record his 24th save and give Miami a 1-0 victory, snapping the club's six-game skid.
Eovaldi allowed just one hit and matched a career high with eight strikeouts over seven innings. However, it marked his fifth straight start in which the Marlins failed to score a run while he was in the game.
"You go out there and try to do your best every time," said Eovaldi. "You just want to put zeros on the board and give your team the best opportunity to win. That's what I was able to do today."
Alex Wood was just as good for the Braves, scattering two hits and matching his career high with seven strikeouts in six innings of work. Walden's struggles in the ninth, though, gave Atlanta its first loss since July 25.
The Braves, who saw NL batting leader Chris Johnson ejected in the first inning for arguing strikes, were aiming to match the club's record for the longest winning streak since moving to Atlanta, a 15-game run set by the 2000 club. The Braves' 14-game run was also the longest in the majors over a single season since the Oakland Athletics won 20 in a row in 2002.
"It stinks that we lost tonight, but that streak had to come to an end at some point," said Wood. "We'll just regroup for tomorrow and hopefully start a new streak."
The Braves fell to 7-4 against the Marlins this season and will hand the ball today to Mike Minor, who was not happy with his last outing despite a stat line that showed little issues.
Dealing with what he called his "worst stuff" of the season, Minor allowed two runs on eight hits and three walks over six-plus innings of a no-decision at Washington on Monday. It still marked his sixth straight start allowing two earned runs or fewer.
The left-hander is 11-5 with a 2.76 earned run average through 23 starts this season and will face the Marlins for the fourth time in 2013. Minor, 25, is 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA over the previous three meetings, with the loss coming at home on July 3 after he allowed four runs over six frames with nine strikeouts.
Henderson Alvarez has provided the Marlins' rotation with a nice boost, but has struggled this year in two previous starts against the Braves. He'll look to solve the NL East leaders tonight in his third ever encounter with the club.
Acquired this past offseason from the Toronto Blue Jays, Alvarez's first two starts this season with the Marlins came against the Braves on July 4 and 9. He allowed seven earned runs over 11 innings, getting a no-decision in Atlanta before a home setback in the second meeting.
The 23-year-old righty, though, has logged five straight quality starts since, winning back-to-back outings before a no-decision in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Alvarez allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings, striking out six without a walk.
Alvarez is 2-1 with a 2.80 ERA in his seven starts this season.