MIAMI — Chipper Jones hurried back from Atlanta after attending to a family matter, arrived at the stadium in the second inning and came off the bench as a pinch hitter in the eighth, hoping to rally the Braves in their struggle to secure a postseason berth.
He grounded out.
Lately the script hasn’t been going Atlanta’s way.
With their NL wild-card lead dwindling, the Braves mustered only two hits against former teammate Javier Vazquez and lost Wednesday to the Florida Marlins, 4-0.
Atlanta’s lead the NL wild-card race shrank when St. Louis beat the New York Mets 6-5 to close to within 1½ games. The Cardinals were 10½ back on Aug. 25, but the Braves have lost 13 of their past 20 games.
“I’m still optimistic that this club has enough in the tank to get it done,” Jones said. “We’ve still got everybody in the rearview mirror. We’ve just got to go take care of business.”
Six games remain in the Braves’ regular season. They’re off today, then begin a three-game series at Washington.
“Maybe it’s good to have a day off,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You come out of this stuff and become a better club when you get through it.”
Jones made a brief trip home to be with his 7-year-old son, who underwent sinus surgery. He watched from the bench as Vazquez (12-11) extended his streak of scoreless innings to 25, a Marlins record for a starter.
After Vazquez pitched seven innings, Jones – now 0 for 10 this year as a pinch hitter – grounded out during a 1-2-3 eighth.
Leo Nunez walked two in the ninth before retiring Jason Heyward to complete a two-hitter.
It was the ninth time the Braves have been shut out.