MIAMI (AP) -Before the game even began, the
How many fans would show to watch two teams far out of first place on a weekday afternoon game with sweltering humidity and
the heat topping 90 degrees?
''I was way off,'' Marlins reliever
joked. ''I had predicted 418.''
Only missed by a couple hundred.
homered and doubled to lead the Marlins past the
5-3 Wednesday in front of an incredibly sparse crowd of just 600 fans at the first pitch.
Dolphin Stadium's bright orange and aqua seats were more visible than normal, leaving most fans to reflect the afternoon sun.
While the official attendance, based on tickets sold, was 11,211, the ballpark was so quiet that home-plate chatter could
''I got enough worries about 30 guys on the field,'' Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''It doesn't seem to bother our
guys. They go out and play hard.''
had two hits and an RBI, and three relievers kept the Braves scoreless over the final three innings to preserve the win.
(4-2) got his first win since July 25, and Nelson pitched a perfect ninth for his first save of the season.
The Marlins, still trying to finalize plans for a retractable-roof stadium near downtown, said they can understand why few
fans showed on a hot day but still hoped for a better turnout.
''The fans that did come out that's who we play for,'' Nelson said. ''I know a lot of people watch us at home, and I do understand,
it's hot out here. It's a difficult situation to sit for nine innings.''
extended his major league ejection record to 143, getting tossed in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes. It was
the eighth time this season he was ejected.
hit a two-run triple for the Braves, who fell to 20 games below .500 for the second time this week. Before Monday, the last
time they were that far below even was at the end of the 1990 season, when they finished 65-97.
''We've lost a lot of games this year,'' Atlanta catcher
said. ''You get to the point where you are repeating yourself. We were in the game the whole time. Bottom line is they outscored
Florida began the day eight games back of the
New York Mets
for first place in the NL East. The Marlins avoided falling to .500 for the first time since April 6, when they were 3-3,
but would still need a historic September to catch the Mets.
The Marlins believe they still have a chance, although their fans appear to have already conceded.
Florida is used to a lack of support, but even Wednesday's game was a stretch for the Marlins, who are by far the majors worst
in attendance with an average between 16,000 and 17,000 fans.
''We like to see a lot more here,'' Nelson said. ''I think we have to run off 10 or 15 in a row to see that. Winning cures
hit an RBI single, and Ramirez scored on a wild pitch by
to give the Marlins a 5-3 lead in the seventh. Braves reliever
(4-1) took his first loss of the season, giving up one run and one hit in one-plus inning.
gave up three runs on four hits in five innings for Atlanta and hasn't won since Aug. 8 at Arizona.
''He got squeezed on the 3-2 pitch and it cost us two runs right there,'' Cox said. ''I thought he threw great. He had a lot
of strikeouts. Nothing really got hit hard, just the one home run by Ramirez.''
Notes: Braves 3B
missed the game with a twisted right knee he sustained during infield practice a day earlier. He reiterated that he should
be able to play in a few days.
replaced him for the second straight game. ...
left the game in the fourth due to an injured left shoulder. On the play, he stepped on his left hand stumbling out of the
box after a single. The Braves said Escobar is day-to-day. .. Marlins OF
celebrated his 41st birthday Wednesday.