MIAMI -- Jair Jurrjens enjoyed the rare luxury of pitching with a lead. And it turns out he's good at it.
Saddled with poor run support in previous starts, Jurrjens benefited from two home runs by his Atlanta Braves teammates and pitched seven innings Thursday to beat the slumping Florida Marlins 4-2."To have the lead was awesome," Jurrjens said. "Every time my team scored, I was able to shut them out the next inning."Casey Kotchman homered and hit an RBI double for the Braves, who scored four runs in Jurrjens' previous four outings. David Ross hit a two-run homer to help Atlanta complete a two-game sweep.Marlins right-hander Anibal Sanchez (1-4) allowed both homers and four runs in 4 2/3 innings before leaving the game because of discomfort in his pitching shoulder. Sanchez underwent surgery on the shoulder in June 2007 and returned last July."He was in pain," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You always think worse-case scenario, but I don't know."Sanchez was to undergo X-rays and an MRI exam.Florida extended a club-record streak of 20 consecutive games without a win by a starting pitcher. During that span the starters are 0-10, and the last starter to win was Sanchez against Atlanta on April 16.Lack of offense has been part of the problem. Emilio Bonifacio led off the first inning with a single, but the only other hits Jurrjens allowed were a pair of homers by Hanley Ramirez."He hit two great pitches," Jurrjens said. "I tip my hat to him and say, `You beat me this time.' He's one of the best."Jurrjens (3-2) struck out four and walked two. His ERA climbed from 1.89 to 2.01."He has been putting a bunch of zeros up," Kotchman said. "Eventually we've got to get Ws out of guys who are sporting sub-2.00 ERAs."The Marlins lost their third consecutive game to finish a 1-3 homestand, during which they fell out of the lead in the NL East for the first time this season. They're 4-13 since an 11-1 start.Florida begins a six-game trip with Dan Uggla batting .190, Cameron Maybin at .202 and Cody Ross at .221."You've got nine guys in the lineup," Ramirez said. "You need them all. One or two guys can't do it all. We need to get going."For the Braves, the sweep came at the start of an eight-game trip. They were swept at home by Florida for the first time ever April 14-16.Atlanta took a 2-1 lead in the second when Kelly Johnson led off with a single and Ross hit his third homer. Kotchman hit his first homer in the third, and hit Sanchez's final pitch for a two-out RBI double in the fifth.Rafael Soriano struck out Ramirez with two on to end the eighth inning, and Mike Gonzalez completed the four-hitter with a perfect ninth for his fifth save in six chances."Just a real well-played game," Cox said.Even struggling Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer went 2 for 4, hiking his average to .239. The rookie had struck out 14 times in his previous 20 at-bats."We took all the rope and belts and everything out of his locker," teammate Chipper Jones said. "Today was a step forward, and something to build his confidence. He's going to need some games like today."
With runners in scoring position, Atlanta went 0 for 5 and Florida went 0 for 3. ... Before the game, Jones was pleased to learn manager Bobby Cox was giving him the day off. "I walked by Bobby and he kind of smirked at me, and I went, `I love you, man.' " ... Ramirez's multihomer game was his ninth. ... The Braves' bullpen has allowed only two homers this season.