MIAMI — Wes Helms hit a game-winning homer, Dan Uggla had a two-run shot after challenging teammate Hanley Ramirez’s effort, and the bickering Florida Marlins beat the Atlanta Braves 8-7 on Wednesday night.
Helms hit the 3-2 pitch off Mike Gonzalez (3-4) well over the left-field scoreboard, sending teammates pouring out of the dugout in celebration.
Brett Carroll hit a bases-clearing double, and Ross Gload finished a home run shy of the cycle to help Florida end a day of infighting with a win.
Ramirez said before the game that he “got some people upset” for leaving Tuesday’s game early with an injury, then Uggla openly argued with the NL batting leader in the clubhouse that forced a closed-door team meeting.
Yunel Escobar homered in the top of the ninth off Leo Nunez (4-4) to tie the game. Pinch-hitter Chipper Jones added a three-run double.
But the real fireworks happened well before the first pitch.
After Uggla heard Ramirez’s comments while sitting at his locker nearby, he got into a verbal barb with Ramirez and accused him of a lack of desire and effort to win. Uggla also said the shortstop wasn’t caring because he’s already secured a $70 million, six-year contract. Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez then held a closed-door meeting.
Frustrations had been building with the Marlins losing two straight and beginning Wednesday five games behind Colorado for the NL wild card, and two behind the Braves for second in the division. None of that was evident during the game.
After Brian McCann hit a sacrifice fly, Adam LaRoche had an RBI single in the first inning that gave the Braves a 2-0 lead.
Gload got things started in the third with a double, and Uggla followed with his 25th home run of the season to tie it.
The Braves took advantage of a Marlins error in the fifth, when Uggla misfired on a throw to second to start what should have been a routine double play. Escobar later drove in McCann with a single to give Atlanta a 3-2 lead.
But things went sour quickly for the Braves.
After starter Javier Vazquez loaded the bases in the sixth, reliever Kris Medlen gave up a three-run double to pinch-hitter Carroll that started a five-run inning to put Florida in front 7-3. Jones tried to get the Braves back with a three-run double of his own in the seventh.
Reliever Tim Wood then loaded the bases by hitting Matt Diaz, who started to walk toward the mound as the dugouts and bullpens began to clear before retreating. Kiko Calero entered to get Martin Prado to pop out and end the threat.