MIAMI (AP) -- The Florida Marlins are starting to see the effects
of good starting pitching.
A.J. Burnett allowed a run in six innings as the Marlins handed
Greg Maddux his first loss in 16 starts and snapped the Atlanta
Braves' six-game winning streak, 2-1 Monday night.
Burnett's outing was Florida's fourth consecutive strong start.
Not coincidentally, the Marlins have won four in a row.
''We've been saying it all year, so it starts to sound like a
broken record. But you can see what happens when we get the
pitching. You go from awful to very good quickly,'' Marlins manager
Jeff Torborg said.
The Marlins have allowed just three runs in four games. Michael
Tejera started the streak against Montreal, and Brad Penny and Josh
Beckett followed with bullpen-aided shutouts.
Burnett kept it going by beating Maddux (9-3) and the Braves,
who have the best record in the majors.
''We got outpitched,'' said Maddux, who lost for the first time
since April 30. In the following 15 starts, he went 7-0 with a 2.28
The right-hander gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings.
Burnett (9-7) was just slightly better, yielding five hits and
striking out six before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the sixth.
Braden Looper pitched the ninth for his second save, extending
the bullpen's scoreless streak to 16 innings. He got pinch-hitter
Mark DeRosa on a long fly to center with a runner on to end it.
''Anytime the ball's hit that deep it's scary,'' Looper said.
''He got the good part of the bat on it and it just kept going.''
Braves manager Bobby Cox thought it was going to be a home run.
''That one is out anywhere,'' he said. ''You can't hit the ball
any harder. It was smoked. That was the hardest hit of the night.''
Andruw Jones hit his team-leading 22nd homer to give the Braves
a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Florida evened the score on Homer Bush's
run-scoring single in the fourth, then went ahead on Charles
Johnson's RBI double in the sixth.
Johnson followed with a first-pitch drive over Gary Sheffield's
head and off the right-field wall.
Atlanta had a good scoring chance in the seventh, putting
runners on first and second with one out, but ended the inning with
a double play. Pinch-hitter Julio Franco struck out, and Henry
Blanco was thrown out easily trying to steal third.
Maddux, whose last loss came against Milwaukee, fell to 3-1 with
a 1.13 ERA this season against Florida. He is 15-6 with a 1.86 ERA
lifetime against the Marlins.
The Braves haven't lost a series since May 7-9, when they
dropped two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Marlins can end that streak, too, with a win in either of
the series' final two games. And with good reason, they expect
starting pitching to be the key.
''We need to have more of these,'' Burnett said. ''We're
pitching well right now. It's just a couple of games right now, but
hopefully it will continue.''
Sheffield singled in the fourth inning, reaching base for
the 48th consecutive game and tying Dale Murphy's club record set
in 1987. Sheffield barely beat out a grounder that SS Andy Fox
fielded on the edge of the outfield grass. ... The Marlins stole
three bases against Maddux, increasing their major league-leading
total to 125. ... Florida 2B Luis Castillo (ankle) and OF Preston
Wilson (wrist) were out of the starting lineup. ... The Braves wore
uniforms from 1974. The Marlins donned the uniforms of the 1982
Miami Marlins, a Class-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.