ATLANTA — Even seeing Sandy Alcantara for the second time in a week was of no benefit to the Atlanta Braves' hitters.
The hard-throwing Miami Marlins right-hander was more overpowering than ever.
Alcantara matched his MLB career high with 14 strikeouts, again dominating the Braves in a 4-1 victory Saturday that pulled the National League East Division rivals even in a three-game series at Truist Park.
Alcantara (5-2) allowed only four hits with no walks in eight innings to earn his third consecutive win. The 26-year-old from the Dominican Republic lowered his ERA to 2.00 while permitting no more than one earned run in his fourth straight start.
"His stuff is so good, I don't even know if familiarity matters," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Alcantara improved to 4-1 in nine career starts against Atlanta. He went the distance last Sunday during a 4-3 victory over the Braves in Miami to avoid a series sweep.
Alcantara said he was determined to "just use all my power" to take advantage of the Braves and said he "always" feels stronger later in games. He retired Atlanta's final six batters Saturday, posting his final four strikeouts in the last two innings.
"Sometimes with Sandy it looks like pitch and catch," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the 6-foot-5 Alcantara's throwing motion.
Atlanta fell to 4-12 in day games this year, the worst record in the majors. The Braves began the day hitting only .203 in afternoon games, also the worst mark in the big leagues.
"He's something else," Snitker said of Alcantara. "It's almost impossible when you get him at that time and the 4 o'clock shadows come in."
Miami's Miguel Rojas had three hits, including a homer off Darren O'Day in the sixth. Garrett Cooper's two-run double off Collin McHugh in the seventh made it 4-1.
Cole Sulser pitched the bottom of the ninth, yielding Dansby Swanson's double with two outs before walking Marcell Ozuna. Sulser struck out Austin Riley for his second save of the season. Riley's strikeout was the 16th of the game by an Atlanta hitter.
Braves left-hander Tucker Davidson (1-2) permitted three hits and one run in five innings. He was hurt by four walks, including two in the fourth. Jorge Soler, who led off the inning with a walk, scored on Joey Wendle's sacrifice fly for the first run of the game.
Ronald Acuña Jr., who returned to the lineup after missing three starts with a strained right quadriceps, was hit by a pitch from Alcantara in the third. The 99 mph sinker glanced off Acuña's shoulder and hit his left hand.
It marked the 31st time in Acuña's career he was hit by a pitch, including seven by Miami pitchers. No other team has hit Acuña with more than three pitches.
After being plunked, Acuña walked slowly toward the first base side of the mound. Alcantara gave him a pat on his backside, and Acuña continued to first base.
"I don't hit him on purpose," Alcantara said, adding his interaction with Acuña was "something between him and me."
Acuña remained in the game but was picked off first base on a quick throw from Alcantara, who took advantage of Acuña appearing to be distracted while trying to adjust a sleeve over his left hand.
"I got that on my mind — pickoff quick," Alcantara said.
Marlins second baseman Willians Astudillo, whose nickname la Tortuga — the Turtle — reflects his lack of speed, hit a one-out single in the fifth for Miami's first hit. The 5-9, 225-pounder then stole second base, converting his first attempted steal in five seasons in the majors with the Minnesota Twins and Miami.
In Sunday's series finale, Miami will start right-hander Elieser Hernández (2-4, 5.59 ERA), who allowed one run in five innings during a 4-3 home loss to the Braves on May 21. Atlanta will counter with left-hander Max Fried (4-2, 3.27).