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Baserunning blunder busts Braves
Chipper Jones, center, watches his team bat against the Florida Marlins during the seventh inning Wednesday at Turner Field in Atlanta. - photo by Gregory Smith

ATLANTA — Ricky Nolasco struck out nine straight Atlanta Braves and set a Marlins record with 16 strikeouts — the most by a major league pitcher in more than two years — in Florida's 5-4 victory Wednesday night.

Trying to make a late push for the NL wild card, the Braves rallied for two runs in the ninth inning and had a chance to win after loading the bases with two outs. But the game ended when Matt Diaz was thrown out trying to scamper back to third following a pitch in the dirt.

Nolasco's nine consecutive strikeouts in one game were one short of the big league record set by Hall of Famer Tom Seaver for the New York Mets on April 22, 1970, against San Diego.

Seaver struck out 19 in that game at Shea Stadium, including his final 10 batters in a 2-1 victory.

Nolasco's 16 strikeouts were the most in the majors since Johan Santana fanned 17 for Minnesota against Texas on Aug. 19, 2007, according to STATS LLC.

With Martin Prado at the plate in the ninth, Diaz initially broke for home on a ball that bounced away from catcher Ronny Paulino. Diaz hesitated, however, and Paulino retrieved the ball quickly before making a strong throw to third.

After he was called out, Diaz slammed his hand on the bag in frustration.

The play gave Brendan Donnelly his second save, though he did not retire a batter. Donnelly had just been brought in to replace closer Leo Nunez.

Atlanta, which began the night three games behind Colorado for the wild card, has lost two straight with four games remaining. The Rockies played later against Milwaukee.

The Braves also were eliminated from the NL East race. Philadelphia beat Houston 10-3 and clinched its third straight division title.

Nolasco (13-9), who struck out 14 of his first 19 batters, set a Marlins record with his 15th strikeout when Diaz fanned for the final out of the seventh. Nolasco's final strikeout victim was rookie Brooks Conrad for the first out of the eighth.

Nolasco's night ended after 123 pitches when manager Fredi Gonzalez brought in Dan Meyer with two outs in the eighth and a runner on first. Meyer retired Chipper Jones on a liner to end the inning.

Atlanta scored twice in the ninth on Yunel Escobar's RBI single and pinch-hitter Omar Infante's RBI single.

Nolasco's streak of nine straight Ks ended with a leadoff double by Adam LaRoche in the sixth. Nolasco fanned 12 through five innings, retiring 14 of his first 15 batters.

Throwing 83 strikes, Nolasco allowed four hits, two runs — none earned — and two walks in 7 2-3 innings. He has won two of his last three decisions and four of his last six starts.

Nolasco was 1-3 with a 7.44 ERA with 10 homers allowed in his previous six starts against the Braves. After winning 15 games last season, the right-hander got off to a rough start this year and was sent to the minors for a two-week stretch that ended June 7.

Both runs scored in the seventh on LaRoche's two-run single. Neither run was earned because Escobar reached on shortstop Hanley Ramirez's fielding error.

The Marlins, who have won two straight, took a 3-0 lead in the third off Braves starter Javier Vazquez (15-10), who lost for the first time in five starts.

After Chris Coghlan led off with a single, third baseman Jones' fielding error allowed Cameron Maybin to reach, and both runners advanced on Ramirez's groundout.

Jorge Cantu followed with an RBI single to make it 1-0. Maybin was already at third when Cantu stole second and scored on Vazquez's wild pitch to Ross Gload.

Dan Uggla followed with an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

Gload's sixth homer, a two-run shot off Vazquez in the fifth, made it 5-0.

Vazquez was 4-0 with an 0.84 ERA in his previous four starts, but he's been unable to solve Florida. No team this season had beaten the right-hander more than once, but the Marlins took their third victory over Vazquez after he allowed eight hits, five runs — three earned — with nine strikeouts in six innings.

The 16 strikeouts tied the most by a pitcher against the Braves since franchise relocated to Atlanta in 1966. The last pitcher to do it was Sid Fernandez for the Mets on July 14, 1989.

The Marlins were eliminated from postseason contention after the Rockies beat Milwaukee on Tuesday.

NOTES: Gonzalez has chosen RHP Rick VandenHurk (2-2, 4.44 ERA) to start Friday against Philadelphia instead of LHP Sean West (8-6, 4.79). ... After striking out as pinch hitter Monday, Marlins OF Jeremy Hermida told Gonzalez that a strain on his right side feels no better. The injury has sidelined Hermida for 25 of the last 26 games. ... Florida 1B Nick Johnson (flu) took batting practice and could be ready for the season-ending series this weekend in Philadelphia. ... Braves LF Garret Anderson needs two hits to reach 2,500. He ranks seventh among active players.

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