Originally created 05/11/00

Braves fall to Marlins

MIAMI -- Blame it on the tides, if you will.

But a week to the night after the Braves saw their 15-game win streak end, two double plays and a debatable decision by third base coach Ned Yost kept them from winning back-to-back games for the first time since leaving the West Coast.

Despite three hits by Brian Jordan and a five-strikeout, no-walk performance from Tom Glavine, the Braves fell, 5-3, to the Florida Marlins on Wednesday night at Pro Player Stadium, wasting two bases-loaded, no-out rallies and stranding seven runners in the final four innings.

"Whatever seems to be able to go wrong, goes wrong," said Glavine, who took his first loss and fell to 6-11 against the pesky Marlins. "We obviously need to do a better job with the bases loaded. If we keep getting those opportunities, we'll eventually cash in on them, but we're not doing a very good job in this series."

A lineup that has struggled all season to produce clutch hits reached a new low before a gathering of 15,249, going 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Braves loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and eighth innings for Chipper Jones, and each time the reigning MVP failed to deliver a hit.

Glavine spoiled the sixth-inning rally by ignoring Yost's command to try and score, then Jones, Andres Galarraga and Jordan couldn't produce a clutch hit in the eighth.

"We hit the ball hard, but every time we got the bases loaded, we didn't hit the ball hard," manager Bobby Cox said. "Sometimes those hits don't come as easily as people think they do."

The Braves loaded the bases in the sixth on walks to Glavine and Andruw Jones, sandwiched around Quilvio Veras' double. Ninety feet away from tying the game, they ran the bases like Little Leaguers and came away empty-handed.

Chipper Jones lifted a shallow fly to right fielder Danny Bautista, who fired home as Glavine broke for the plate, then retreated back to third. Heedless of Glavine's feint, Andruw Jones was almost to second when the ball reached the infield. Seeing Jones trapped, Glavine headed for the plate and was easily thrown out, the double play going 9-2-4-2.

"Ned (Yost) was telling me to go, and as soon as I took off I knew I was going to be out and I stopped," Glavine said. "I know Danny (Bautista) has a good arm, and I know we do everything we can to prevent a play at the plate with a pitcher."

If Glavine had held at third, the Braves would have had the bases loaded, one out and Galarraga at the plate. Instead, they had runners on second and third and two outs. Galarraga rolled out, and the Marlins breathed a sigh of relief.

In the seventh, Jordan left himself a triple shy of the cycle with a 404-foot blast into the left-field seats, his second homer, pulling the Braves close at 4-3.

Glavine, who had allowed only one homer in 52 innings entering the game, was touched for two in three innings. In the fourth, Mike Lowell caught up with a fastball and launched it into the left-field seats, his seventh homer, to make it 3-1. Preston Wilson rocketed his fifth homer over the left-field wall in the sixth, giving the Marlins an insurance run.

The Braves had another bases-loaded, no-out opportunity in the eighth, but it died a feeble death. Chipper Jones, hitting .250 with runners in scoring position, flied out and relievers Armando Almanza and Braden Looper whiffed Galarraga and Jordan.

The Braves, who stranded seven runners in Monday's loss, are hitting a collective .231 this season with runners in scoring position.

"Chipper and I, we're supposed to drive in at least one run," Galarraga said. "That's baseball. You never know what's going to happen."

In the ninth, Bobby Bonilla, who had a triple and double in three at-bats, drew a one-out walk against closer Antonio Alfonseca. Rafael Furcal followed by topping a ball off the plate for a hit, but pinch-hitter Keith Lockhart rolled out and Veras' ground ball ended the game.

"I'm shaking like a leaf," Marlins manager John Boles said. "I feel like a wet noodle. It feels wonderful to escape from this one."

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.


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