Ben Sheets had been lights out for the Braves since returning to the majors from a nearly two-year absence two weeks ago, but Wednesday he regressed, giving up three runs in a disastrous first inning.
ATLANTA — Wade LeBlanc needed two more outs to have a chance to win his first start of the season.
Ozzie Guillen had his focus on LeBlanc’s pitch count and the chance to protect a lead against Atlanta.
Miami broke out for three runs in the first inning against Ben Sheets after scoring just three total in two losses to Atlanta, and the Marlins ended the Braves’ seven-game winning streak with a 4-2 victory Wednesday night.
Carlos Lee, Greg Dobbs and Bryan Petersen had consecutive run-scoring singles in Miami’s first inning.
LeBlanc gave up only five hits and one run in 4 1-3 innings. He was pulled by Guillen after giving up a single by Paul Janish and Sheets’ sacrifice bunt in the fifth.
Asked if LeBlanc being so close to qualifying for a win was a factor, the typically candid Guillen replied “If the kid was in the running for Cy Young, yes, but he’s not.”
Carlos Zambrano (6-9) gave up one run in 1 2-3 innings in relief of LeBlanc. Steve Cishek pitched the ninth for his fifth save as the Marlins once again avoided usual closer Heath Bell — who has been a massive disappointment after signing a $9 million deal this offseason — like the plague.
Cishek walked pinch-hitter Michael Bourn to open the ninth. He recovered to strike out pinch-hitter Brian McCann before ending the game when Martin Prado hit into a double play.
“We were not very good with runners on base,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. “Even though we hit the ball hard, we hit it right at them.”
Zambrano earned the win in his second appearance since being removed from the rotation. It was only his second career win in relief.
Sheets (3-1) gave up 11 hits and four runs, three earned, in 6 2-3 innings in his first loss in four starts with Atlanta. He had been 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA coming into Wednesday.
“It stinks when you’re riding a long winning streak,” Sheets said. “In the first inning, I gave them the momentum right out of the gate. The momentum that we earned over seven games.
“I just couldn’t get out of the inning.”
The Braves’ win streak matched their season best.
Freddie Freeman had three hits and Reed Johnson had two hits in his first start with the Braves.
The Braves’ only run off LeBlanc came when Freeman, who reached on a single, scored on a double by Janish with two outs in the second inning. Bryan Petersen appeared to hurt his right shoulder as he made a diving attempt to catch the bloop double by Janish. Petersen remained in the game and had an ice pack on the shoulder after the game.
Emilio Bonifacio started the game with a bunt single on Sheets’ first pitch. Bonifacio stole second, moved to third on Donnie Murphy’s single and scored on Lee’s bloop single to right field. Dobbs and Petersen also had run-scoring singles for the 3-0 lead.
The Marlins pushed their lead to 4-1 in the fourth when Scott Cousins, who reached on an infield single with two outs, scored when left fielder Martin Prado misplayed LeBlanc’s double for an error.
Dan Uggla’s double off Zambrano drove in Chipper Jones, who walked, to cut Miami’s lead to 4-2 in the sixth.
Mike Dunn gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs in the seventh before ending the inning on Freeman’s line drive to right field.
Janish delivered the defensive highlight in the third inning. Sprinting from his shortstop position, Janish ended up on his stomach after making a diving catch at the left-field foul line of a flyball hit by Jose Reyes. Reyes stood staring from second base as Janish returned to his feet.
There was a brief delay when Lee’s bat hit home-plate umpire Joe West on Lee’s follow-through on his swing in the fifth. The impact knocked West’s mask off and left a cut on his face.
NOTES: Reyes has a 19-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the majors. He was picked off by Sheets after his fifth-inning single. ... Guillen said he will start Gorkys Hernandez, acquired from the Pirates on Tuesday, in centerfield on Thursday night. Hernandez was a defensive replacement in left field in the seventh. ... Guillen said he hasn’t decided who will join RHP Josh Johnson as the starters in Friday’s doubleheader at Washington. ... The Braves placed RHP Jair Jurrjens on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, clearing a roster spot for Paul Maholm, who was acquired with Johnson from the Cubs on Monday night. ... Braves LHP Mike Minor will face Marlins RHP Nate Eovaldi as the teams conclude their four-game series on Thursday night.