Atlanta at Florida

Scoreboard
Atlanta000000000040
Florida «11030010x6102

Marlins 6, Braves 0

SportsLine.com wire reports
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MIAMI -- Juan Pierre's home run was unexpected. Jeff Conine's might have been, too.

Pierre hit his first career leadoff homer and Conine homered for the first time in a month to help the Florida Marlins beat the slumping Atlanta Braves 6-0 Wednesday night.

Brad Penny pitched six shutout innings to snap a three-game losing streak and send the Braves to their sixth loss in seven games. Atlanta also has lost 10 of 14, falling six games under .500 for the first time since 1990, when it finished 65-97.

"We better start playing ball or things could get away from us," first baseman Julio Franco said. "We don't want to go down by 12 games at the All-Star break, because things could get real ugly around here. These next games are important, because we at least want to stay in the pack."

The Marlins handed the Braves their fifth consecutive series loss.

Carl Pavano overcame a rough start to beat the Braves 4-3 Tuesday, and Penny (7-5) was even better a night later.

He allowed four hits, a walk and struck out seven, winning for the first time in five starts. He lowered his ERA from 2.83 to 2.65 and improved to 7-3 against Atlanta.

"He's pitched a hell of a lot better than his 7-5 record," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "This guy is on a mission. He's going to put some big numbers up before his career is over."

The Braves managed one baserunner in each inning, but couldn't get anyone past second base.

Billy Koch, Matt Perisho and Ben Howard each pitched an inning of hitless relief to finish Florida's eighth shutout.

Penny had lost three in a row, and the Marlins had dropped four straight with him on the mound. It wasn't that he pitched poorly, giving up 13 earned runs in the four outings, but he received little run support.

"The thing I like about him is he stays under control," McKeon said. "That's a sign of maturity. He doesn't experiment out there. He goes after you. He's like Nolan Ryan: 'Here it is boys, try to hit it.' "

Penny got plenty of help Wednesday, backed by three homers.

Conine's fifth was a three-run shot in the fourth inning that gave the Marlins a 5-0 lead. It was his first since May 24 against Arizona, a span of 22 games.

Conine entered the game hitting .167 with runners in scoring position and was batting .218 overall in June. The numbers had him calling it the worst slump of his career and had others wanting the Marlins to bring up Joe Dillon from Triple-A Albuquerque to replace him.

"I don't mind the average, but when you're not driving in runs and you're a run producer, that's tough to swallow," Conine said. "I can't make up lost ground, but hopefully I can make a difference the rest of the way."

Pierre hit his second homer of the season; his other was an inside-the-parker. His shot down the right-field line landed in the first row. He pumped his fist twice rounding first and didn't stop smiling until long after he touched the plate.

"Balls don't usually come off my bat like that," said Pierre, who tied his career high for homers in a season. "I've got to enjoy that one a little bit. ... My power numbers are coming early this year."

Hee Seop Choi also homered in the second against John Thomson.

"I can't explain it," said Thomson, who has given up a team-high 12 homers. "It seems that when I make a mistake now, it goes out of the ballpark. It's not like you can get away with it and it goes for a double. Now my mistakes are winding up in the seats."

Thomson (5-6) lost his fourth straight start. He gave up five runs on five hits and a walk and struck out four.

After losing five of six to Atlanta early in the year, the Marlins have won two in a row. Florida will go for a sweep Thursday, looking for its first three-game winning streak since the end of May.

"Maybe this is the start of something good," McKeon said.

Notes

Braves OF Charles Thomas made his major league debut, pinch-hitting in the fifth and striking out. ... Pierre's home run was Florida's 14th leadoff homer and first since Dave Berg did it Aug. 27, 2001. ... New York Giants QB Jesse Palmer, best known for his appearance on ABC's reality dating show The Bachelor, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.


AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
 
 
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Players of the Game
Florida

J. Conine
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
Florida

B. Penny
IP 6.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 1
K 7
 

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Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS4010001 .260
Nick Green, 2B4000011 .275
J.D. Drew, RF3000111 .280
Chipper Jones, 3B4000022 .212
Johnny Estrada, C4010021 .330
Julio Franco, 1B3010111 .275
Andruw Jones, CF3010112 .245
Eli Marrero, LF3000113 .256
John Thomson, P1000000 .160
   a- Charles Thomas, PH1000011 .000
    Juan Cruz, P0000000 .000
   b- Mark DeRosa, PH1000001 .227
    Armando Almanza, P0000000 .000
    Travis Smith, P0000000 .000
   c- Mike Hessman, PH1000012 .129
Totals3204041116 
a-struck out for Thomson in the 5th
b-flied out for Cruz in the 7th
c-struck out for Smith in the 9th
Batting
2B - Johnny Estrada (23, Penny)
CS - Rafael Furcal (3, 2nd base by Penny/Redmond)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Green-Furcal-Franco
Atlanta Braves
John Thomson (L,5-6) 4555143 4.91
Juan Cruz 2300020 3.77
Armando Almanza 0.2111100 6.17
Travis Smith 1.1100000 6.17
Pitches-Strikes - John Thomson 75-54, Juan Cruz 30-20, Armando Almanza 19-8, Travis Smith 14-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Thomson 5-3, Juan Cruz 2-1, Travis Smith 2-2
Batters Faced - John Thomson 18, Juan Cruz 8, Armando Almanza 4, Travis Smith 5
Florida Marlins
Juan Pierre, CF4121010 .306
Luis Castillo, 2B4110001 .292
Miguel Cabrera, RF2110210 .294
    Matt Perisho, P0000000 .000
    Ben Howard, P0000000 .000
Mike Lowell, 3B4121012 .297
Hee Seop Choi, 1B4111026 .262
Jeff Conine, LF4123000 .272
Alex Gonzalez, SS4010011 .250
Mike Redmond, C4000002 .277
Brad Penny, P2000001 .086
    Billy Koch, P0000000 .000
   a- Damion Easley, PH1000000 .244
    Abraham Nunez, RF0000000 .196
Totals3361062613 
a-flied out for Koch in the 7th
Batting
3B - Luis Castillo (4, Almanza)
HR - Juan Pierre (2, Thomson), Hee Seop Choi (13, Thomson), Jeff Conine (5, Thomson)
RBI - Juan Pierre (23), Mike Lowell (44), Hee Seop Choi (32), Jeff Conine 3 (24)
2-OUT RBI - Mike Lowell (13)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
PB - Mike Redmond (2)
E - Luis Castillo (3, Misplayed grounder), Hee Seop Choi (4, Misplayed grounder)
Florida Marlins
Brad Penny (W,7-5) 6400170 2.65
Billy Koch 1000100 5.60
Matt Perisho 1000010 3.57
Ben Howard 1000230 8.64
Pitches-Strikes - Brad Penny 72-51, Billy Koch 7-3, Matt Perisho 23-13, Ben Howard 15-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brad Penny 5-6, Matt Perisho 1-2
Batters Faced - Brad Penny 23, Billy Koch 4, Matt Perisho 4, Ben Howard 5
Game Information
Attendance - 15294
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 87
Umpires - Home - Dale Scott, First Base - Ron Kulpa, Second Base - Bill Miller, Third Base - Brian Gorman