For the first time in more than a week, the Atlanta Braves need to rebound from a defeat.
With their seven-game winning streak now in the past, the Braves still have a chance to take their four-game set against the Miami Marlins on Thursday night at Turner Field.
Atlanta (59-45) had outscored opponents 40-11 during its winning streak, which was snapped with a 4-2 loss to Miami on Wednesday. Freddie Freeman had three hits and Reed Johnson went 2 for 4 in his Braves debut, but the team lost for the first time since a three-game skid July 21-23 and only the sixth time in its last 23 contests.
"It stinks when you're riding a long winning streak," said losing pitcher Ben Sheets , who gave up three first-inning runs. "I gave them the momentum right out of the gate. The momentum that we earned over seven games."
The Braves, still sitting in the second wild-card spot in the NL, remained 2 1/2 games behind first-place Washington in the East.
Freeman has helped Atlanta's standing by batting .373 in his last 23 games. He's 8 for 12 with two doubles in this series.
Scheduled Atlanta starter Mike Minor (6-7, 5.18 ERA) has also been hot. He went 2-1 with a 1.98 ERA in four July starts, allowing one run and four hits while striking out nine in eight innings of a 2-1 win over Philadelphia on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Minor retired the last 13 batters he faced and seems to have progressed after posting a 6.20 ERA in his first 15 starts of 2012.
"It takes a little time," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's not a finished product by any means. He's heading in that direction pretty quickly and right in front of our eyes."
The left-hander's lone loss last month came at Miami on July 23, although he only yielded two runs in seven innings of a 2-1 defeat. Minor, 1-2 with a 4.86 ERA against the Marlins this season, was roughed up for six runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-4 home loss to Miami on May 16.
Reyes is batting .347 during a 19-game hitting streak, the longest active stretch in the majors. He's hit .429 (12 for 28) in his last seven versus Atlanta.
Seeking a four-game split, the Marlins hand the ball to Nathan Eovaldi (2-6, 3.94 ERA) for the second time. He allowed a run and five hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-2 win over San Diego on Saturday in his first start since he was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Hanley Ramirez trade.
The 22-year-old right-hander posted a 2.61 ERA in four July outings.
"(Eovaldi) has a great arm," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You can see he's still a baby, can still be polished, but I love his arm and his presence on the mound is very good."
Eovaldi was very good in his only previous appearance against the Braves on Sept. 3, overcoming five walks and allowing only Dan Uggla 's solo homer and two other hits over six innings of the Dodgers' 2-1, 10-inning win at Atlanta.
|July 29, 2012||Logan Morrison||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|July 23, 2012||Juan Carlos Oviedo||15-Day DL||Right elbow sprain|
|July 08, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic right knee surgery|
|July 08, 2012||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Right finger laceration|
|July 06, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|June 30, 2012||Edward Mujica||15-Day DL||Fractured right pinkie toe|
|August 01, 2012||Jair Jurrjens||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|July 31, 2012||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|July 20, 2012||Matt Diaz||15-Day DL||Right thumb contusion|
|July 14, 2012||Jack Wilson||15-Day DL||Dislocated right pinkie finger|
|July 09, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||Day-to-Day||Broken right pinkie|
|July 09, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||15-Day DL||Broken right pinkie finger|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Mike Minor called it a win-win situation - even if the win wasn't his.
Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman hit two-run doubles, and the Atlanta Braves scored six runs in the first two innings to beat the Miami Marlins 6-1 on Thursday night.
The 40-year-old Jones had two hits and is batting .316 in his final season before retirement.
The Braves, 6-1 on their 10-game homestand, remained 2 1/2 games behind first-place Washington in the NL East. They won three times in the four-game series.
The Braves led 6-0 when a 42-minute rain delay in the fourth inning spoiled Minor's excellent opportunity for the win. He didn't return after the delay and thus didn't qualify for the win.
"It's frustrating, but we got the win and that's all that really matters," said Minor, who has not allowed more than two runs in five straight starts.
"We've got guys in the bullpen to pick me up. It's a win-win situation."
Minor, 24, gave up two hits in 3 2-3 scoreless innings.
"I think you're looking at a kid who has kind of realized what he is capable of doing," Jones said of Minor.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said protecting Minor's arm was the smart move.
"It's a situation when you always try to do the best for the young man," Gonzalez said. "We didn't think running him out there was prudent."
Miami's Jose Reyes led off the sixth with a triple to left field, giving him a 20-game hitting streak to match his career-high.
Reyes scored on Carlos Lee 's sacrifice fly.
Jason Heyward had three hits and drove in a run for Atlanta.
Cristhian Martinez (5-2) took over for Minor when play resumed in the fourth. Martinez allowed four hits and one run in three innings.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel stranded two runners in the ninth, striking out Emilio Bonifacio to end the game.
Making his second start since coming to Miami in the trade that sent Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers, Nathan Eovaldi (2-7) gave up six runs and eight hits with one walk and one hit batter in two innings. It was the shortest of his 18 career starts.
Eovaldi said he had a good curveball but had little success with his fastball.
"They really just sat on the fastball, even the ones I located, and they hit it well," Eovaldi said. "It was just one of those nights.
"I felt like I never got in that good groove. Every time I felt like I was ahead, I didn't get guys out. They took all my off-speed pitches and just hit the fastballs really well."
Eovaldi yielded only one run over 5 1-3 innings in a 4-2 win over San Diego in his Marlins debut on Saturday.
Chad Gaudin followed Eovaldi with four scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk. Gaudin's innings were especially crucial for Miami's bullpen before Friday's doubleheader at Washington.
Dan Jennings added two scoreless innings.
"Once again Gaudin went out there and pitched well for us," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The bullpen didn't let them score any runs. Great job. I didn't think we were going to make it but those guys, they saved our bullpen."
The Braves sent nine batters to the plate in their three-run first inning. Following singles by Reed Johnson and Heyward, Jones hit a two-run double and scored on Dan Uggla 's single.
"We hit some bullets and kind of set the tone," Jones said.
Eovaldi gave up three more runs in the second. The right-hander hit Johnson with a pitch after giving up a single to Michael Bourn . Heyward drove in Bourn with a single to left and Freeman added a two-run double to right.
The Marlins had a depleted bench for the game.
Third baseman Donnie Murphy was scratched from the starting lineup with flu-like symptoms. Outfielder Bryan Petersen was held out with a sore right shoulder he hurt while diving for a ball in Wednesday night's game. Outfielder Justin Ruggiano was held out with back spasms.
Petersen walked as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
Gorkys Hernandez , acquired from the Pirates on Tuesday, was 0 for 4 in his first start for Miami in center field.
Marlins left-hander Dan Jennings loaded the bases in the eighth on two walks and a hit batter. Jennings escaped the jam but limped off the field after covering first base on Heyward's inning-ending grounder to first.
NOTES: Reyes also had a 20-game hitting streak in 2005 with the Mets. ... Johnson made his second straight start for the Braves, this time in left field, following his trade from Chicago this week. Martin Prado , only 6-for-28 (.214) in the first six games of the homestand, was given a day off. ... The Marlins will call up LHP Brad Hand from Triple-A New Orleans to pitch the first game of Friday's doubleheader at Washington. RHP Josh Johnson will start the second game. ... The Braves open a series against the Astros when RHP Tim Hudson faces Houston RHP Armando Galarraga on Friday night.