ATLANTA (AP) - Ricky Nolasco held the Atlanta Braves without a run and allowed only two hits through six innings.
It all unraveled for him in the seventh.
``One pitch ended up killing the whole game for me and this team,' Nolasco said. ``I should be ashamed of that with the way I was throwing the ball and the way we were playing today.'
Alex Gonzalez hit a three-run homer and Martin Prado bunted in a run during a four-run seventh, handing the Florida Marlins a 4-1 loss to the Braves on Wednesday.
Atlanta has won two straight following a season-high four-game losing streak. The Braves, who have 12 games left, maintained a 4 1/2-game lead in the NL wild-card race over St. Louis.
Greg Dobbs homered in the second off Randall Delgado, and Nolasco (10-11) held the lead until the seventh.
Dan Uggla walked with one out and went to third on Brian McCann's single, the Braves' third hit. Prado squared around as Nolasco released a pitch, and the ball bounced softly inside the first-base line as Uggla scored without a play to make it 1-all. Prado wound up with a bunt single.
``I was trying to go to first the whole time,' Nolasco said. ``I just didn't field it cleanly. It should've been an out. Obviously, I didn't make the play. I'm pretty sure Martin thought it was an out, too, until I bobbled it. He started running after that. It's frustrating.'
Later in the inning, Marlins manager Jack McKeon couldn't believe Nolasco hung a breaking ball to Gonzalez with the count 0-2.
``With two strikes on Gonzo, just throw the ball a foot outside or a foot over his head, and he'll swing at it,' McKeon said. ``He did that the previous time up, threw him a pitch about that far outside. This time he was going to trick him, I guess. I don't know. I don't know. I guess that's why you're 10-11 or whatever you are and you're not a 20-game winner. You've got to concentrate. You've got to make the pitches.'
Five Braves combined on a four-hitter, and the Marlins didn't get a hit after the third or a runner after the fifth.
Cristhian Martinez, Eric O'Flaherty (2-4), Jonny Venters and rookie Craig Kimbrel each pitched a perfect inning, with Kimbrel striking out the side for his major league-leading 44th save in 49 chances.
O'Flaherty lowered his ERA two points to 1.05 ERA, best among major league relievers.
``It's not easy against their bullpen,' Florida first baseman Gaby Sanchez said. ``They've done a heck of a job the whole year. It's not fun going up there and having to face them.'
When Prado got the safety squeeze sign from third-base coach Brian Snitker, he was only hoping Nolasco would throw a fastball.
``It's been a while since I got a bunt down,' Prado said. ``In that situation, you can't be too late and you can't be too early or they find out what you're doing. I always get tough pitches to bunt, like sliders. Finally, I got a fastball.'
Nolasco blamed himself for not fielding the ball cleanly.
``It was a routine bunt that I need to make, and I bobbled it,' Nolasco said. ``(Jason) Heyward should've been the third out, but wasn't. Do the rest of the things right, then go 0-2 and hang a curveball and one pitch ruins my outing and the whole game for us. Should've been out of that inning 1-1. It's frustrating. Not much you can say there.'
Gonzalez homered with two outs, his 13th of the year. He went 2 for 3 and finished the series 8 for 11 (.727) with five RBIs against his former team.
``He's not missing the mistakes,' Nolasco said. ``I made two mistakes today, and he didn't miss either of them. Good hitters are going to do that. He pretty much won that game over there for them today.'
NOTES: Nolasco was coming off a 13-4 win at Pittsburgh last Friday, but was 0-2 with a 9.27 ERA in his previous four starts. In 19 career games, including 18 starts, Nolasco is 5-7 with a 4.76 ERA against Atlanta. ... Mike Dunn pitched the eighth for Florida. ... Atlanta took an 11-4 lead in the season series. ... Florida will play a doubleheader Thursday at Philadelphia to make up the twinbill that was postponed Aug. 27 by Hurricane Irene. RHP Anibal Sanchez will try to win his second straight start in the first game. He pitched a 3-0 shutout last Saturday at Pittsburgh. RHP Alex Sanabia, who has never faced the Phillies, will make his first start this season in the second game. He is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in six career road starts.
The Associated Press News Service
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