published Monday, July 5th, 2010

Marlins ride Uggla to victory over Braves

  • photo
    Florida Marlins' Dan Uggla (6) enters the dugout after a home run against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 4, 2010, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

By Manny Navarro

McClatchy Newspapers

ATLANTA — Dan Uggla said all the right things Sunday when he found out he had been denied of what would have been his third career All-Star selection.

Then, he showed Tim Hudson and the first-place Braves how he really felt. With a hard-hit two-run single that bounced off Hudson's right leg in the first inning and a solo home run in the fourth, Uggla provided all the offense the Florida Marlins needed in a 3-2 win in front of 44,163 at Turner Field.

Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins' bullpen did their part, too. Nolasco struck out 11 in seven innings to outduel Hudson before four relievers helped end the Marlins' losing streak at three games.

"I thought it was a must win," said, who threw 118 pitches and gave up six hits and walked one in seven innings. "We couldn't come in and get swept. That's a good team over there. We know that. Just to take one, hopefully, it can get us going, get some momentum going into a series at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Every game for us is big from here on out."

As usual, the Braves, who own baseball's best home record (30-10), didn't make things easy for the Marlins late in the game.

Manager Edwin Rodriguez used three relievers — Clay Hensley, Taylor Tankersley and Tim Wood — to record one out apiece in the eighth.

Wood got the biggest one, retiring Melky Cabrera on a groundout with runners on first and second with an assist from Hanley Ramirez. The Marlins' shortstop ranged to his left — and well past second base — before throwing to first.

Closer Leo Nunez then pitched a perfect ninth — striking out Omar Infante swinging for the final out — to record his first save since June 23. Nunez had blown two consecutive save chances coming into Sunday, including in Friday's 4-3, 11-inning loss, when Infante drove in the tying and winning runs with a single.

"It definitely helps the confidence of our bullpen guys," said Hensley, who started the eighth and recorded an out before Tankersley was brought in and retired Brian McCann on a flyout to center.

"That's a big pressure situation. We got a guy on second, heart of the order and some pretty good ball players were facing right there. For the guys to come up big with a runner on ... hopefully we can take that with us to L.A."

Said Rodriguez: "If we want to win, we need those guys."

Nolasco also came through. Handed a 2-0 lead before he threw his first pitch, he ran into trouble right away in the first when the Braves loaded the bases with nobody out. But Atlanta was able to scratch across only one run in the inning. Nolasco struck out McCann and then got Eric Hinske to lift a sacrifice fly to right before Cabrera grounded out to second to end the threat.

After that, the Braves put only two more runners on base before McCann hit a solo homer with one out in the sixth to make it 3-2.

At one point, Nolasco struck out five in a row. His 11 strikeouts — the 11th time he has reached double figures in his career — were the second-most by a Marlins starter this season. Josh Johnson had 12 against the Padres on April 26.

"I know the pressure is on and we have to win a lot of games," Nolasco said. "I just feel like if I do my job, we should be in a good position to win."

Uggla's home run, which barely cleared the wall in left-center field, was his 16th this season. It was also his 137th as a Marlin, the most by all major-league second baseman since 2006. His next one will tie Miguel Cabrera for second on the Marlins' all-time list.

"We didn't win the series, but we're going to go into L.A. with some attitude," Uggla said. "I'll take that."

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