Braves starting pitcher Paul Maholm sits alone in the dugout during Atlanta’s 6-2 loss Wednesday afternoon to the NL East last-place Miami Marlins after he was rocked for four runs in the first inning and Atlanta’s bats would never help him recover. Maholm, who started the season as one of the Braves’ most consistent pitchers, has now lost two straight starts and five of his last seven, allowing at least seven hits in all of those starts but one.
MIAMI — Manager Mike Redmond was worried when one of his Miami Marlins hitters got his first career triple Wednesday — and that’s because that hitter is a pitcher.
But Jacob Turner survived the 270-foot sprint — fellow pitcher and teammate Jose Fernandez could hardly stop laughing the entire time in the dugout — and was able to last seven innings.
That was enough for the Marlins, who scored four first-inning runs off struggling Atlanta starter Paul Maholm (9-8) and held on to defeat the Braves, 6-2, at Marlins Park.
Maholm has now lost two straight starts — and five of his last seven — giving up no fewer than seven hits in all but one of those games.
Maholm, who threw seven shutout innings against the Marlins on April 8, took the loss, walking five and allowing seven hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
His problems started right away as the Marlins got their first three batters on base, which led to the four-run inning. The biggest hit was Giancarlo Stanton’s two-run double that bounced off the wall in left-center field. Stanton pulled an 81 mph breaking ball that was low and outside.
With one out, Placido Polanco bounced a run-scoring double down the third-base line. And with two out and a base open for the pitcher, Jeff Mathis looped a run-scoring single over second baseman Dan Uggla.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, however, would not put the loss on Maholm. He said Maholm did a good job to keep the Marlins in check after the first inning. He also praised his pitcher’s toughness after he stayed in despite getting hit by a comebacker.
“The game could have gotten out of hand in a heartbeat,” Gonzalez said. “But he hung in there even though his legs took a beating from the comebacker and also from two pitches he fouled off when he was hitting.”
The Marlins weren’t taking about Maholm’s struggles after the game. They were more focused on Turner’s big day.
“I was joking with (Turner) in the dugout after the triple,” Redmond said. “I was afraid I was going to have to take him out of the game because usually, in my experience, those guys go out and have to run around a little, they get tired really quickly.
“But he did a nice job recovering and coming out and giving us (a chance). He looks good. He looks confident. He’s having fun.”
Thanks in part to Turner, the last-place Marlins snapped a five-game losing streak, their longest skid since they dropped nine straight in May.
The first-place Braves, who were seeking their eighth series sweep of the season, settled for two out of three and ended their road trip 3-3.
Polanco was the Marlins’ hitting star, going 3-for-5 with three RBI.
Turner (3-1), who entered the game 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in his past five starts at Marlins Park, was solid, allowing just two runs in his seven innings.
Turner said playing in a big stadium such as Marlins Park is an advantage.
“It’s huge, and that gives you confidence,” he said. “I’m not going to say it doesn’t help. If you can keep the ball in the ballpark, it makes it a lot harder for them to score.
“But we also have the defense that seems to play well here because we have good speed in the outfield and good range in the infield.”
The Braves scored a run in the second on two opposite-field doubles. Chris Johnson drove the ball over the head of Stanton, who failed to take a great angle in right field. Uggla picked up the RBI when his double hit the bag at first.
In the sixth, the Braves closed their deficit to 4-2 when Freddie Freeman stroked a one-out double to left and scored on a groundout by Johnson.
Polanco, who has split time at third base lately with Ed Lucas, added a two-run single in the eighth.
“Practice,” Polanco said when asked how he has stayed sharp despite reduced playing time. “When I came up to the big leagues, that was my role. I didn’t play every day. In this game, you have to be ready every day.”
NOTES: Attendance at Marlins Park was 23,921. … The Braves are spending their 100th consecutive day in first place, an MLB high this season. … With Friday’s deadline fast approaching, the Marlins have yet to sign their first-round pick (University of North Carolina 3B Colin Moran) or third-rounder Ben Deluzio, a prep middle infielder from Orlando, Fla.