The Miami Marlins didn't hit many home runs during their dismal hitting-challenged start to the season, but a recent power surge has them playing better.
After being cooled off with their first three-game losing streak in a month, the Marlins try for their seventh win in eight home games Monday night against the Braves.
Although Miami (32-55) ranks near the bottom of the major leagues with 53 homers, the team has had a much different look offensively since getting Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison back in the lineup.
Stanton and Morrison, who missed a combined 97 games due to injuries, have totaled nine homers and 23 RBIs since returning to action one day apart June 9 and 10.
The Marlins have hit 24 home runs in their last 27 games after totaling 29 during a 16-44 start. They had won 16 of 24 before getting swept in St. Louis, falling 3-2 on Sunday as they failed to homer for the first time in six games.
"We're young, we're learning, we'll get there," Morrison said.
Miami, last in the NL East, hopes to bounce back with a season-best fourth straight home win. The Marlins hadn't lost three in a row since June 3-5.
Minor (8-4, 3.15 ERA) will try to hold the Marlins without a home run in back-to-back games for the first time since June 12 and 14, but he's had trouble keeping the ball in the park lately. The left-hander, who will face Miami for the second straight time, has allowed five homers in his last three outings after giving up nine in his first 14.
Minor has gone 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in his last four starts, yielding four runs over six innings of a 6-3 home loss to the Marlins on Wednesday.
Stanton has two home runs off Minor, his only two hits in 11 career at-bats against him. Stanton is 2 for 20 with eight strikeouts versus Atlanta this season.
The division-leading Braves (50-38) dropped the final two games of the recent three-game series with the Marlins. They lost for the eighth time in 11 road contests Sunday, 7-3 to Philadelphia."I really can't tell you why. It's one of those things," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "To be a championship team, you have to win at home and on the road."
Following Saturday's trade of Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers, Kevin Slowey (3-6, 4.24) looks to take advantage of another opportunity in the Miami rotation. The right-hander was 1-6 with a 4.50 ERA in 13 starts before being demoted to the bullpen in June.
He's 1-2 with a 4.58 ERA in three career starts against the Braves, though he pitched well against them April 8, giving up two runs in seven innings of a 2-0 loss.
Slowey, however, gave up four runs in two innings of relief in an 11-3 loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. Justin Upton should be happy to see him again, as he's 4 for 4 with a homer and double against Slowey.
Brian McCann had three more hits Sunday and has gone 19 for 32 (.594) with two homers and seven RBIs in his last eight games.
|July 04, 2013||Jordan Schafer||15-Day DL||Right ankle contusion|
|July 02, 2013||B.J. Upton||Day-to-Day||Left game - left forearm spasms|
|June 18, 2013||Evan Gattis||15-Day DL||Oblique strain|
|June 17, 2013||Ramiro Pena||15-Day DL||Right shoulder impingement|
|May 29, 2013||Kris Medlen||Day-to-Day||Left game - left upper calf contusion|
|May 18, 2013||Eric O'Flaherty||15-Day DL||Left elbow surgery - out for season|
|June 25, 2013||Justin Ruggiano||Day-to-Day||Sore left shoulder|
|June 09, 2013||Chris Coghlan||15-Day DL||Right calf irritation|
|June 09, 2013||Casey Kotchman||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|May 27, 2013||Alex Sanabia||15-Day DL||Right groin discomfort|
|May 19, 2013||Matt Diaz||60-Day DL||Left knee bone contusion|
|May 08, 2013||Chris Valaika||60-Day DL||Fractured left wrist|
MIAMI (AP) -- Atlanta Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird watched the first 12 innings of Monday night's game from the bench and still found himself exhausted at the end.
"I'm so tired," Laird muttered as he collapsed into a chair at his locker shortly before midnight.
The Braves went without a baserunner for 24 consecutive batters before their bats came to life in the 14th inning, when they scored six times to beat the Miami Marlins 7-1.
Justin Upton broke a tie by driving in two runs when he doubled for Atlanta's first hit since the sixth, and Laird added a two-out, two-run single.
"It's a weird game," Laird said. "We gave our offense a chance, and we knew we weren't going to get shut out all night."
Five Miami relievers combined to retire 24 batters in a row before Reed Johnson walked to start the 14th against Chris Hatcher (0-1). Jason Heyward walked with one out, and Upton's double scored both runners.
After Laird's hit, Chris Johnson added an RBI single with the bases loaded, and another run scored when the ball skipped past left fielder Justin Ruggiano for an error.
Seven relievers for the two teams combined to retire 30 straight hitters from the eighth to the 13th.
"Our innings felt like they were going fast," Atlanta's Dan Uggla said. "I didn't know what inning it was, but I realized we hadn't had a baserunner in forever. Once Reed got on I thought, OK, maybe something will get sparked right here."
David Carpenter (2-0) pitched two innings and escaped a jam in the 13th. The Braves earned their 26th comeback victory, most in the NL, and improved to 11-2 in two years at Marlins Park.
"To win that was big," Uggla said. "It stinks to play games like that and then lose."
The Marlins fell to 0-13 this season when their retractable roof is open - sort of. On a balmy 86-degree night, the game began with the roof open, but it was closed in the seventh inning when rain moved into the area.
Miami stranded 12 and went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position. The Marlins' first two batters reached in the 13th, but Logan Morrison grounded into a double play and Adeiny Hechavarria popped out.
Atlanta's Mike Minor allowed six hits and one run in 6 1-3 innings, then watched the rest of the 4-hour, 14-minute game on a clubhouse TV.
"I was sitting here forever," he said. "They played more than I pitched. It doubled the game."
Minor struck out Jeff Mathis on a 3-2 fastball with the bases loaded to end the sixth and keep the score tied. In the seventh, Miami stole three bases - two on a double steal - and still couldn't score. In the ninth, Heyward made a leaping catch at the 392-foot sign in right field to rob Ruggiano of an extra-base hit.
"We had tons of opportunities and just couldn't get the big hit," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "In those close games, it's going to come down to who's going to get it, and they got it."
Ruggiano's two-out RBI single in the fifth delivered the Marlins' only run.
Four pitchers cooled off the Braves' Brian McCann , who went 0 for 5. He was batting .512 over the previous 11 games.
Kevin Slowey , making his first start since June 12 for Miami, pitched five shutout innings before departing for a pinch hitter after throwing only 69 pitches. Slowey took the spot in the rotation vacated when Ricky Nolasco was traded Saturday to the Dodgers.
"It's an odd spot to find yourself in - throwing early in a long, long game like that and being relegated to cheerleading," Slowey said.
Marlins starters have allowed fewer than four runs in 19 of the past 21 games.
Dan Jennings followed Slowey to the mound, and the Marlins' 1-0 lead was gone two batters later. Heyward hit his first triple of the season and scored on a sacrifice fly by Upton.
NOTES: After the game, the Marlins optioned Hatcher to Triple-A New Orleans. ... Braves RHP Brandon Beachy (elbow) will make a rehab start Tuesday for Triple-A Gwinnett, his first game since his rehab assignment was shut down last month because of inflammation. ... B.J. Upton went hitless and is 1 for 21 (.048) against the Marlins this year. ... Morrison is 2 for 17 this season with runners in scoring position.