MIAMI — For the Atlanta Braves, eight innings were absolutely futile offensively.
The other one was more than enough.
Evan Gattis drove in two runs to highlight Atlanta’s highest-scoring inning in more than a month, and the Braves snapped a four-game slide by beating the Miami Marlins 5-2 Monday night. All five of the Braves’ hits came in the fourth, as did all their runs.
“Five-spots are great,” Braves second baseman Elliot Johnson said. “It’d been nice to put on a few more, but we’re going to take it. Anytime we end up with five and they get four or less, obviously we’re going to take it. You’re not trying to go out there and score 10 every night. You want to get as many as you can, but as long as you get more than they get, that’s all that matters.”
Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman and Gattis all doubled to lead off that fourth inning, Atlanta’s highest-scoring frame since a five-run fifth against Philadelphia on Aug. 2. Kris Medlen (13-12) was the beneficiary that night against the Phillies and again on Monday, getting the win after allowing six hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings.
Atlanta (86-57) passed idle Boston (87-58) for baseball’s best record. Medlen – who went 10-1 last season – got his record over .500 for the first time in 2013.
“It’s pretty fun to look back and see that I started 1-6 and kind of turned things around,” Medlen said. “I’m not the one scoring the runs, and they had a huge inning for me today. It’s kind of what’s gotten me to this point this year.”
Chris Coghlan tied a career high with four hits for Miami, which lost for the 24th time in its past 34 games. Ed Lucas added a two-run double in the seventh for the Marlins.
“I was able to get some good pitches to hit and had some good counts,” Coghlan said. “I was able to find some holes.”
Craig Kimbrel working the ninth to get his 45th save in 48 tries for the NL East leaders.
Atlanta has not lost more than four in a row at any point this season
Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez (3-4) rolled through the first three innings, before Atlanta got to him in the fourth. Upton got it started with a double to right, Freeman followed with one to left, Gattis drove both home with another two-base hit, and the Braves were rolling. Chris Johnson and Elliot Johnson both had run-scoring singles, and Chris Johnson later scored on a wild pitch for a 5-0 lead.
That was enough for Medlen and three relievers.
The Braves had some good news pregame, with manager Fredi Gonzalez announcing that slugger Jason Heyward – out since last month with a broken jaw – had some of “the hardware” that was surgically inserted to assist with the healing process removed.
“He can eat,” Gonzalez said.
And more good news came afterward, given that the Braves –who scored 10 runs during their four-game slide – got their groove going at the plate again, if only for one inning.
“Five hits and five runs on one frame,” Gonzalez said. “And we made it hold up.”
The Marlins, meanwhile, remained on pace for a 100-loss season, and played without right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (ankle) for a second straight game. Stanton worked out pregame Monday and the Marlins are hopeful he could return to the lineup as early as Tuesday, though will let him make the decision on when to get back on the field.
“Guys want to finish strong,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “They want to take advantage of every at-bat that they can and every opportunity they get to play. This time is so important for guys. I think you learn the most about your ballclub in the last three weeks of the season because guys have a lot to play for. They’re playing for next year. They’re trying to finish off good years, maybe finish up a not-so-good year.”