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Bennett gives up three runs in the first, Braves lose

POSTED: May 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.

ATLANTA — The Florida Marlins have been trying to get Matt Lindstrom to rely on his upper-90s fastball a little more. He did just that Wednesday, only Lindstrom didn’t throw his best heater to the plate. He threw it to first.

With two outs and a runner on third, Lindstrom fielded a Matt Diaz dribbler to the left side and fired a pellet to Mike Jacobs, preserving a one-run lead in the seventh inning. The Marlins turned a slim lead into a five-run cushion the next two innings on their way to a 7-2 win over the Braves at Turner Field.

Andrew Miller (1-2) left with a lead after five innings and the bullpen delivered his first win as a Marlin, recording the final 12 outs without allowing a run. Kevin Gregg was primed for a save situation in the ninth, but Justin Miller entered instead after Dan Uggla’s two-run triple in the top half off former Marlin Chris Resop.

Uggla went 3 for 5 and Jacobs drove in three, including two with a first-inning homer. Hanley Ramirez also went deep as part of the 11-hit effort. In winning four of their past five, the Marlins are hitting .328 (59 for 180) and averaging 6.2 runs per game.

Andrew Miller’s outing was a carbon copy of his last start. The difference: This time it was good enough for the win. He struggled early, threw a lot of pitches, gave up plenty of hits, but executed in key situations and finished strong.

For the second time in as many starts Miller had a 30-plus pitch opening inning. This time he escaped allowing one run. He totaled just five fewer deliveries the following inning and again kept the Braves to one run on an opposite-field homer by Diaz that bounced off the top of the right-field wall before settling on the other side.

The Braves did not go down in order in any of the five innings Miller completed. They had two hits in three of them (nine total), but only Diaz’s homer went for extra bases.

"Up and down," Miller said of his performance. "Way too many hits, left some balls over the middle of the plate. I put a lot of stress on the bullpen again, but it’s nice to get a win."

Though Miller threw between 12 and 17 pitches in each of the final three innings, he was done after five with a pitch count of 98. Just 58.5 percent of his pitches (excluding an intentional walk to Chipper Jones in the second) were in the zone and all but nine of the 24 batters he faced started 1-0.

Miller has completed five innings and thrown at least 90 pitches in each of his past three starts, but he has been at 60 percent or below in percentage of strikes thrown. Of his 222/3 innings, 10 have lasted 20 or more pitches and only one was over in 10 pitches or less. He has retired the side in order just six times.

"We got outs when we had to. They hit some good pitches and some pitches they’re supposed to hit," Miller said.

While Miller may not be adept at pounding the strike zone yet, give him credit for holding the Braves to one hit in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The Marlins staked Miller to a three-run lead in the first behind homers from Ramirez and Jacobs. Ramirez deposited a Jeff Bennett 1-0 fastball over the center-field wall for his 17th career leadoff homer.

Four batters later, with a runner on, it was Jacobs who sent a 1-0 fastball into the bleachers in right-center. With seven homers, Jacobs and Ramirez are tied him with Pat Burrell and Derrek Lee for second behind Chase Utley (nine) in the National League.

"We all know what Hanley can go. And if Jake stays healthy, he’s going to have a good year." manager Fredi Gonzalez said.



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