ATLANTA (AP) — Caleb Smith wasn’t satisfied with his first start in a month.
Thanks to a productive day by the National League’s worst offense, Smith’s return was good enough to beat the first-place Braves.
Yadiel Rivera hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning and the Miami Marlins beat Atlanta 5-4 on Saturday for only their second win over the Braves this season.
Smith (4-4) returned from missing 26 games with a hip injury to give up four runs, three earned, in six innings. It was his first start since June 6.
“Physically I felt good,” Smith said. “Just my command wasn’t there with any of my pitches at all. It got better as the game went on. After the third inning, I kind of settled in, but it still wasn’t great.”
The Braves had been 9-1 against Miami before the Marlins snapped a five-game losing streak. The Marlins’ struggling offense, shut out in a 1-0 loss to Atlanta in the series opener, had 15 hits, including homers by Harold Ramirez and Starlin Castro. The shot by Castro reached the second level of the left-field seats.
“We swing the bats really good,” Castro said. “It’s not easy to beat those guys.”
Rivera was hitting .125 with one RBI before his line-drive single to left field drove in Garrett Cooper and Castro.
“The one pitch to the eighth-place hitter is the one that hurt,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker of Rivera’s at-bat.
Braves left-hander Max Fried gave up three runs on four hits in the fifth.
“I just left some balls over the plate … and wasn’t able to stop the damage,” Fried said.
Sergio Romo gave up an infield single to Nick Markakis to open the ninth before recording three straight outs for his 16th save in 17 chances. Romo struck out Tyler Flowers to end the game.
Atlanta couldn’t take advantage of a scoring opportunity against Nick Anderson in the eighth. With one out, Ozzie Albies doubled off the center field wall and moved to third on Freddie Freeman’s single. Josh Donaldson hit into a double play to end the inning.
Albies had a career-high three doubles.
Ronald Acuña Jr., who will participate in Monday’s All-Star Home Run Derby, led off the first inning with his 21st homer. Rookie Austin Riley homered in the second, but the Atlanta offense lost its momentum after a run-scoring single by Markakis in the third gave the Braves a 4-2 lead.
The NL East-leading Braves began the day 6 ½ games ahead of second-place Philadelphia.
Fried (9-4) allowed five runs on 11 hits, including the homers by Ramirez and Castro, in five innings. He was given his first loss since May 28 against Washington. The left-hander had two wins and four no-decisions in June.
Marlins: Cooper left the game in the sixth with cramping in his right leg. JT Riddle entered the game as a pinch-runner after Cooper’s single to left field. … 3B Brian Anderson (elbow contusion) missed his fourth straight start and popped out to right field as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
Braves: RHP Anthony Swarzak had no problems after throwing on Friday. He could return by the end of next week. … As expected, SS Dansby Swanson (sore left quadriceps) was rested for the second straight game. He is expected to start on Sunday.
Miami ranks last in the NL in runs and last in the major leagues in homers. The 15 hits were four away from the Marlins’ season-high 19 on June 4 at Milwaukee.
The Braves set a franchise record for most home runs before the All-Star break with 142. The 2003 Braves hit 140 before the break and finished with 235, another franchise record.
Smith, who had been on the injured list since June 7 with left hip inflammation, was activated before the game. The Marlins optioned right-hander Jeff Brigham to Triple-A New Orleans.
Marlins: RHP Trevor Richards (3-9, 4.02) is 0-1 with a 3.45 ERA in three career starts against the Braves. In his only start at SunTrust Park, he allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings on Aug. 14, 2018.
Braves: LHP Dallas Keuchel (1-2, 4.08) will make his fourth start since signing with Atlanta.
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