Mike Minor's efforts last week helped the Braves avoid year-old game series with the Florida Marlins.
The Braves had not been swept in a series of at least three games at all this season before dropping all three games of a set versus the Phillies from Sept. 5-7. Minor then pitched Atlanta to a victory on Sept. 8 at the Mets as the Braves swept a doubleheader before losing all three games in St. Louis following the twinbill.
A plethora of missed opportunities then led to Atlanta losing its season-worst fourth straight game last night, a 5-4 setback in 12 innings.
Alex Gonzalez tied the game in the eighth inning with an RBI single, but the Braves failed to score another run despite having a man on third in the ninth and 10th innings and a runner reach base in the 11th and 12th frames. The loss wasn't too costly, though, as Atlanta remained 4 1/2 games up on the Cardinals for the National League Wild Card spot after St. Louis lost in Pittsburgh.
"We're fine. We played good today, we just didn't come out with the win," said Braves reliever Jonny Venters, who pitched the eighth. "We've gotta just keep going and every day is a new day. We've gotta come to the field tomorrow to try to get a win."
Atlanta has won all six of its game in Florida this year, but has lost four of seven at home to the Marlins in 2011.
Minor will try to even the season series at Turner Field and brings a five- decision win streak into this start. He bested the Mets on Thursday despite allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk in five innings. The big blow as a grand slam allowed to Jason Bay, but Atlanta edged out a 6-5 win.
The 23-year-old southpaw is 5-2 with a 4.32 earned run average in 12 starts this year and will face the Marlins for the second time in his career. The first meeting came on Sept. 5 of last year and Minor got a no-decision after yielding six runs over four innings.
Florida will try to extend the momentum created by Mike Stanton's pinch-hit RBI single that plated the go-ahead run in the 12th. John Buck walked on five pitches to lead off the frame and pinch runner Brett Hayes went to second base on Bryan Petersen's sacrifice bunt. Anthony Varvaro intentionally walked Donnie Murphy and was replaced on the mound by Cristhian Martinez, who surrendered Stanton's single to left.
Stanton missed the previous two games with a strained right hamstring and got ready to hit a few times before the Marlins finally called on him. He said nothing changes in his approach when he's pinch hitting.
"I just take it as I'm getting ready for a game," he said. "If we're on the road, I'm going to bat in the first inning anyway. So it's kind of like my first inning, but usually in a more important situation."
Brad Hand gets the call for the Marlins tonight and is coming off a tough-luck defeat to the Mets on Wednesday. The 21-year-old allowed just a run over six innings of work, allowing three hits and four walks, but suffered a 1-0 defeat.
Hand hasn't won since July 7 and has lost his past three starts. He is 1-6 with a 3.91 ERA in 10 starts this season.
The 21-year-old has dropped both of his previous career starts to the Braves. He faced them at home on Aug. 8 and was tagged for seven runs over five innings of work. That includes a three-run homer yielded to Gonzalez in the fifth frame.