ATLANTA — Alex Gonzalez isn’t too concerned about the pressure of a wild-card race.
“You have to leave it outside,” he said. “You have to do your job. This time of the season, for me, pressure doesn’t work.”
Gonzalez hit a three-run homer and Martin Prado bunted in a run during a four-run seventh inning as the revived Atlanta Braves beat the Florida Marlins 4-1 on Wednesday to maintain their lead in the NL wild-card race.
Atlanta won the last two games of the series after a season-high four-game losing streak. The victory kept the Braves 4½ games ahead of St. Louis, which won 3-2 at Pittsburgh.
“We know we’ve got a great team,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve got a great leader (in manager Fredi Gonzalez). We’ve got great pitching. We’ve got a great bullpen. I just go out there and do the best I can.”
Five Braves combined on a four-hitter, and the Marlins didn’t get a hit after the third or a runner after the fifth.
Cristhian Martinez, Eric O’Flaherty (2-4), Jonny Venters and rookie Craig Kimbrel each pitched a perfect inning, with Kimbrel striking out the side for his major league-leading 44th save.
“It’s not easy against their bullpen,” Florida first baseman Gaby Sanchez said. “They’ve done a heck of a job the whole year. It’s not fun going up there and having to face them.”
Greg Dobbs homered in the second off Randall Delgado, and Ricky Nolasco (10-11) held the lead until the seventh.
Dan Uggla walked with one out and went to third on Brian McCann’s single, the Braves’ third hit. Prado squared as Nolasco released a pitch, and the ball bounced softly inside the first-base line as Uggla scored without a play. Prado wound up with a bunt single.
“It’s been a while since I got a bunt down,” Prado said. “In that situation, you can’t be too late and you can’t be too early or they find out what you’re doing. I always get tough pitches to bunt, like sliders. Finally, I got a fastball.”
Two batters later, Alex Gonzalez homered on an 0-2 count with two outs, his 13th of the season.