Marlins ace Jose Fernandez delivers big hit to doom Braves

ATLANTA (AP) — Interim Braves manager Brian Snitker had a funny feeling Jose Fernandez might beat Atlanta with his bat.

Snitker’s hunch was right.

Fernandez, the Miami ace, delivered a pinch-hit two-run double that sent the Braves to a 7-5 loss in the 12th inning Friday night.

“Before that inning started, I was sort of trying to look over in the dugout,” Snitker said. “I was hoping maybe they’d sent him back (to the hotel) for his start tomorrow. It didn’t surprise me when he came out. It was kind of the guy I expected.”

Making the first pinch-hit appearance of his career, Fernandez doubled into the gap in left-center, easily scoring runners from second and first base.

“That’s always been like a dream, play the outfield or get to pinch hit like that,” Fernandez said. “When it actually happened, it was like, ‘Oh my God, we’re really doing this.’ My heart rate started, (but) the main goal was just try to hit a ground ball somewhere and get a run and go home.”

The dramatic moment overshadowed the meltdown of closer A.J. Ramos, who blew a rare save in the ninth for Miami. Ramos had converted 33 straight saves, one short of the franchise record, before Tyler Flowers led off with his sixth homer to force a 5-5 tie.

“Really I was just trying to be on time,” Flowers said. “That guy has good weapons. He’s been extremely successful in that role he’s in. You hope to get one pitch and be ready for it. I was able to do that.”

Fernandez, one of baseball’s most dynamic starters, began the game with a .222 batting average in 27 at-bats. With the pitcher’s spot due up in the 12th and no position players available, Fernandez batted for reliever Nick Wittgren (3-1) and delivered the big hit.

Before the game, Mattingly said that Ramos would remain the closer after the team traded for Fernando Rodney. Rodney did his job, facing four batters in a scoreless eighth, but Ramos wasn’t as lucky.

Rodney, whose 253 career saves rank fifth on the active list, converted all 17 of his chances this year for the Padres, but Mattingly said the plan was for him to work primarily as a setup man with Miami.

The Marlins snapped a three-game skid and improved to 3-7 against Atlanta, the NL’s worst team.

Casey Kelly (0-3), the sixth Atlanta pitcher, took the loss.

Marcell Ozuna went 4 for 6, homered and drove in three runs for Miami. Martin Prado, Christian Yelich and Ozuna each had a two-out hit in the seventh when Miami scored twice to take a 5-4 lead.

Braves ace Julio Teheran began the night having pitched 23 consecutive scoreless innings, but his career-best streak ended quickly when Miami took a 3-0 lead in the first on Derek Dietrich’s leadoff homer and Ozuna’s 17th homer, a two-run shot.

Teheran avoided trouble in the second when he struck out Yelich to strand the bases loaded, but Yelich chased him in the seventh with an RBI single that made it 3-all.

Teheran allowed 11 hits and five runs and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings. His ERA rose .26 points to 2.72.

Atlanta cut the lead to 3-2 in the second on Erick Aybar’s RBI single and Teheran’s groundout.

Ozuna’s RBI single in the seventh came off Chris Withrow for the go-ahead run.

In his previous 12 starts, Teheran was just 3-5 despite a 1.61 ERA and a .160 opponents’ batting average.

“It was a battle,” Teheran said. “It was kind of a different game. You’re not going to feel the same way every game. You try to, but sometimes it’s not going to happen.”

Marlins starter Justin Nicolino gave up seven hits, four runs, one walk and struck out one in five innings. The left-hander blew a 3-0 lead when Chase d’Arnaud hit his first career homer, a two-run shot, to put the Braves up 4-0 in the fifth.

Recalled before the game from Triple-A New Orleans, Nicolino has an 8.22 ERA over his last three starts.

KER-PLUNK AGAIN

Dietrich was hit by a pitch in the second, marking the third time this series and 16th this season, most in the majors. Even the visiting dugout at Turner Field hasn’t been a safe place Dietrich, who was hit in the head by Yelich’s foul liner on May 29. Carlos Delgado set the Marlins’ single-season record after getting hit by 17 pitches in 2005.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Atlanta CF Ender Inciarte strained his right groin and had to leave the game in the sixth inning.

TRANSACTION WIRE

LHP Jo-Jo Reyes was designated for assignment with Rodney’s arrival. The Marlins optioned RHP Brian Ellington to New Orleans to make room for Nicolino.

UP NEXT

Marlins: RHP Fernandez (10-3) has a 2.15 ERA and a 4-1 in seven career starts against Atlanta.

Braves: RHP Lucas Harrell (0-0) will make his first start since 2014 with Houston. He went 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in nine appearances at Triple-A Gwinnett.

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