MIAMI (AP) — Rookie Randall Delgado pitched five innings for his first major-league win, and the Atlanta Braves put the brakes on their recent skid by beating the Florida Marlins 4-0 Tuesday night.
The Braves began the night leading St. Louis by 2½ games in the NL wild-card race after blowing a ninth-inning lead to lose Monday. The margin was 10½ games on Aug. 25.
Delgado (1-1), making his sixth career start, pitched around five hits and lowered his ERA to 2.70. Cristhian Martinez and Anthony Vavaro both retired six consecutive batters to complete the 16th shutout for the Braves, which ties for third-most in the majors.
Freddie Freeman hit his 20th home run for the Braves, who won for only the seventh time in their past 19 games. Alex Gonzalez hit his 15th homer but left the game in the sixth inning with a strained right calf. His status is day to day.
Martin Prado drove in a run and had three of the Braves' 11 hits. Michael Bourn contributed his 56th stolen base, most in the majors, and his 34th double.
The Marlins went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position, leaving them 0 for 11 in the series in those situations. They fell to 1-7 at home against Atlanta this year.
Anibal Sanchez (8-9) lost to the Braves for the third time in as many starts this year. He allowed three runs in five innings but retired the last 11 batters he faced.
It looked as though the Braves' recent slump might continue when they put runners at second and third with no outs in the first and failed to score.
But they bounced back with three runs in the second. Gonzalez hit the first pitch for a homer, and Jason Heyward doubled. Bourn hit a one-out double and scored on Prado's single.
Freeman homered off Brian Sanches in the sixth to make it 4-0.
The Marlins loaded the bases with one out in the third, but shortstop Gonzalez turned a soft liner by Logan Morrison into an unassisted double play.
Notes: The Braves sent minor-league RHP Eliecer Cardenas to the Pittsburgh Pirates to complete the Aug. 31 trade for OF Matt Diaz. ... Marlins RHP Javier Vazquez, who is scheduled to face Atlanta on Wednesday, is 7-10 in 20 starts against his former team. But he hasn't faced the Braves since 2005. ... RHP Derek Lowe, scheduled to start against the Marlins on Wednesday, is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA against them this season, with the win on Aug. 8. ... Sanchez is winless in his past eight home starts. ... Prado improved his lifetime average against Sanchez to .444 (12 for 27).