ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 12: Michael Bourn #24 of the Atlanta Braves watches from the dugout between innings against the Florida Marlins at Turner Field on September 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
If the Braves want to have any chance of going far into the playoffs, they will certainly need to be better situational hitters.
The Atlanta offense blew numerous scoring opportunities and the Marlins ultimately won in 12 innings, 5-4.
Brandon Beachy fell behind 2-0 early. Omar Infante hit a one-out triple in the first and scored on a single by Greg Dobbs. In the third inning, Emilio Bonifacio tripled and scored on Infante's sacrifice fly. Beachy threw 31 of his first 73 pitches in the third inning.
The Braves offense didn't push a run across against Chris Volstad until the fourth when Alex Gonzalez doubled home Dan Uggla with two outs. Freddie Freeman's sacrifice fly in the fifth after a pair of singles tied the game 2-2.
Unfortunately, Beachy couldn't keep the Marlins makeshift lineup at bay. Following a one-out walk in the sixth, a weak pop-up off the bat of Donnie Murphy amazingly fell in for a hit. That led to trouble when Matt Dominguez singled in a run to give the Marlins the lead again. Arodys Vizcaino entered the game and wild pitched another run in, putting the Braves in a 4-2 hole.
The Braves fought back, however. Martin Prado hit a leadoff triple in the sixth off Burke Badenhop and scored on Jason Heyward's sacrifice fly. Heyward scored the tying run in the ninth against Edward Mujica thanks to another two-out hit by Alex Gonzalez. Heyward had reached on an infield single and went to second on Murphy's throwing error.
The bullpen held the Marlins in check while the Braves tried to break the tie in the ninth. Two hits and an intentional walk loaded the bases against Steve Cishek, but Brian McCann struck out and Prado hit into a force out, inducing extra innings.
In the tenth, Heyward walked leading off and was at third with two outs, but Michael Bourn was called out on a close play at first. The eleventh inning brought similar fortune: Chipper Jones reached on an error and Dan Uggla walked with one out, but again, the hitters behind them failed.
Anthony Varvaro pitched a scoreless eleventh, but in the twelfth, a leadoff walk led to a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk. With two outs, Mike Stanton was called on to pinch-hit and sunk the Braves with a tie-breaking single.
The Braves had no magic in the bottom of the inning. A leadoff walk to Jason Heyward was wasted and the Braves lost their fourth straight, their first such streak of the season.
The Braves were 3-for-20 with RISP; Alex Gonzalez had two of the hits. They put the leadoff hitter on base in each of the last four innings.
If there's any silver lining, it's that the magic number shrunk to 11 with a St. Louis loss.