published Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Gattis, Minor lead Braves past Marlins 8-0

Atlanta Braves' Evan Gattis hits a three-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Miami. Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward scored on the hit.
Atlanta Braves' Evan Gattis hits a three-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Miami. Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward scored on the hit.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

MIAMI — Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer and the Atlanta Braves completed their second consecutive three-game sweep when they beat the reeling Miami Marlins 8-0 Wednesday night.

Mike Minor pitched 5 2-3 innings for the Braves, whose 8-1 record leads the majors. They’re off to their best start since 1994, when they began the season 13-1.

Only three series into the season, Atlanta enjoys a seven-game lead over the Marlins, who have the worst record in the big leagues at 1-8. They’ve scored just 16 runs, and with five consecutive losses they’re off to their worst start since the 1998 team began the season 1-11.

The Marlins kept the game scoreless until the fifth, when Gattis hit his third homer in a six-run inning. The rookie also singled and is batting .391 with a slugging percentage of .826.

Gattis hit six home runs in spring training as a non-roster invitee to earn a spot on the team. The surprising success of the 26-year-old catcher gives the Braves considerable depth at the position, with Brian McCann expected to return from shoulder surgery by the end of April.

Juan Francisco hit a two-run homer off the facade of the upper deck in center field, Andrelton Simmons drove in two runs, and reserve Jordan Schafer had four of Atlanta’s 13 hits.

The home team could be grateful there were few witnesses. For the second night in a row, the Marlins drew the smallest crowd since their park opened a year ago. Announced attendance was 13,810.

Minor (2-0) pitched around a leadoff double in the second and another in the third. Two relievers completed a seven-hitter.

The Braves came into the game with the best ERA in the majors at 2.13, and they’ve allowed only three runs in the past four games.

Miami went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and is batting .153 in those situations. Four starters ended the night hitting .200 or worse, including slugger Giancarlo Stanton at .167.

Alex Sanabia (1-1) gave up six runs, all in his fifth and final inning. Schafer led off with a bunt single, stole second and scored on a single by Simmons. Following a walk, Gattis hit a two-out homer.

After another walk, Francisco hit his first homer.

NOTES: Slumping Braves CF B.J. Upton (.103) was given the night off. ... Braves RF Jason Heyward went 0 for 4, dropping his average to .071. ... Marlins rookie Chris Valaika, who started at 1B, said he never played the position before, not even in Little League. He mishandled his first chance for an error.

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