Although an NL East title seems unlikely, the Atlanta Braves don't appear satisfied with a wild card.
The red-hot Braves try to win their fifth in a row and beat the lowly Miami Marlins for the 14th time in 2012 in the teams' final meeting Thursday night.
One night after celebrating the clinching of a postseason berth by spraying champagne on each other in the clubhouse and on the field, Atlanta (90-65) was still able to beat the Marlins 3-0 on Wednesday. The Braves managed four hits, but that was enough to win for the ninth time in 11 games.
Although Atlanta seems to be locked into the NL's first wild-card spot - leading St. Louis by 6 1/2 games and four back of East-leading Washington with seven to play - it's not given up on a division crown."It's going to be a difficult task, but it can be done," Freddie Gonzalez said. "We just have to win and see what happens."
Martin Prado had two of Atlanta's hits Wednesday, homering in the first inning and driving in Jose Constanza with a third-inning single. He is batting .474 during a five-game hitting streak and said the team is focused on finishing strong."I think the way we're playing right now, we just want to keep going all the way to the end," Prado said.
The Braves certainly have the potential to pile up several more victories, with one game remaining with Marlins (66-89), three with the New York Mets and three against Pittsburgh. Atlanta is 13-4 against Miami this year, one win shy of matching the single-season franchise record for victories versus the Marlins, set by the 2004 team, which went 14-5.
Scheduled starter Tommy Hanson (12-9, 4.46 ERA) has allowed one run in winning each of his two starts against Miami this year, and is 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA in his last five in the series.
Hanson, however, has been shaky lately, and is winless in seven starts since defeating the Marlins on July 30. The right-hander, who served up three homers in Friday's 6-2 loss to Philadelphia, has permitted at least four runs in each of his last two starts, and four times in his last six."I feel like I'm battling my (rear) off to help my teammates out and help my team win," he said. "As of right now, I'm not doing a very good job."
Despite keeping Miami in check, several Marlins have had Hanson's number.
Stanton, who has been out the last eight games with a sore left ribcage, may be held out until Friday's series opener with Philadelphia. His bat has been sorely missed by the Marlins, who have totaled 11 runs while batting .192 in losing six straight.
Turner pitched better than his stat line indicates from Friday's 7-3 loss to the Mets. In five innings, the righty allowed six runs - three earned - and eight hits. If not for some generous scoring, all six runs would have been unearned.
Turner, who'll be facing the Braves for the first time, had yielded two runs over 13 innings in his previous two starts.
|September 21, 2012||Justin Ruggiano||Day-to-Day||Sprained right shoulder|
|September 18, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|September 14, 2012||Carlos Lee||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained neck|
|September 04, 2012||Heath Bell||Day-to-Day||Sore left foot|
|August 22, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||60-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|August 13, 2012||Nick Green||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
|September 18, 2012||Paul Janish||Day-to-Day||Shoulder|
|September 15, 2012||Brian McCann||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring tendinitis|
|August 25, 2012||Ben Sheets||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 25, 2012||Ben Sheets||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 10, 2012||Chipper Jones||Day-to-Day||Back tightness|
|August 01, 2012||Jair Jurrjens||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Tommy Hanson ended his long winless stretch. It remains to be seen if it was enough to earn a spot in the Braves' postseason rotation.
David Ross and Andrelton Simmons raced home on left fielder Bryan Petersen 's costly error, sending Hanson and Atlanta to a 6-2 victory over the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.
Hanson (13-9) allowed two runs, one earned, and six hits in 5 1-3 innings for his first win since July 30, also against Miami. The right-hander was 0-4 with a 5.06 ERA in his previous seven starts.
"I think I did all right - not good, not bad," Hanson said. "I would have liked to have gone a little deeper."
Atlanta has won five in a row. The Braves, who have clinched at least a wild-card berth, remained four games behind Washington in the NL East.
Kris Medlen is expected to start for Atlanta in a wild-card game. If the Braves advance in the playoffs, a four-man rotation likely would include Tim Hudson and Mike Minor . That would leave Hanson and Paul Maholm competing for the final spot.
Hanson, who struck out four and walked two against Miami, likely will have one more regular-season start at Pittsburgh.
"He did OK," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He kept us in the ballgame. He kind of scattered the ball around control-wise."
Miami led 2-0 before the Braves scored four runs in the fourth inning. Dan Uggla and Simmons had run-scoring doubles before Jacob Turner (1-4) walked Jose Constanza to load the bases.
Petersen dropped Martin Prado 's sinking liner, allowing Ross and Simmons to score.
Petersen said the ball was "in and out" of his glove.
"It's a ball I have to catch," he said. "There aren't a lot of excuses you can make right there. It's a catchable ball."
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was disappointed the defense didn't provide better support for Turner, who allowed four runs, two earned, and six hits in six innings.
"One of these days when this kid pitches we might play better for him," Guillen said. "I hope. Before his career's over.
"The last two outings he's pitched well but I think his teammates let him down. He was one out away from having a very good inning and we didn't do it for him."
Miami has lost seven straight for its longest slide of a disappointing year. The Marlins also were swept by the Mets during an 0-6 road trip.
"It's rough but we're still grinding," Petersen said. "The season's coming to a close but it's not over and there's still stuff that we're working on.
"We're going to push forward for momentum going into next year. Try to get as good a feeling as possible."
Atlanta swept the three-game series to finish 14-4 against the Marlins for the season.
The Braves extended their lead with two runs in the seventh. Wade LeBlanc gave up a double to Prado before loading the bases with walks to Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman . Uggla hit a two-run single off Ryan Webb .
Uggla had two hits and drove in three runs while raising his average to .217. It's been a long year for the All-Star second baseman, but this solid night prompted him to declare "I'm back."
"I'm not searching for it," Uggla said of his hitting stroke. "It's me and I'm going to do what I do from here on out."
Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones , continuing the final homestand of his career, tipped his helmet when fans rose for a standing ovation before his first at-bat in the second. Jones then took a deep breath, entered the batter's box and drew a walk. He was 0 for 3.
"That was pretty fun," Jones said of the ovation. "I wish I had played a little better tonight, but the rest of the guys picked up the slack."
Jones, 40, is retiring after the season and will be honored by the team before Friday night's game against the Mets. His parents arrived Thursday for Friday night's ceremony.
Petersen hit a leadoff double in the third and scored on Carlos Lee 's two-out double down the left-field line.
The Marlins added a run in the fourth. Scott Cousins singled, moved to second on Hanson's wild pickoff throw, and scored on a double by Gil Velazquez .
NOTES: Braves CF Michael Bourn (jammed left thumb) missed his fourth straight start. An MRI showed no tear. Bourn is day to day with a slight sprain. ... Braves C Brian McCann was held out with a sore right knee. "He's just having a tough time moving around back there," Gonzalez said. ... Atlanta's Tim Hudson (16-6) will face LHP Jonathon Niese as the Braves open a weekend series against the Mets on Friday night. After the series, the Braves close the regular season with three games at Pittsburgh. ... The Marlins return to Miami to open a series against Philadelphia. Miami LHP Mark Buehrle (13-13) will face Cliff Lee (6-8).