Five-man infield causes confusion in ninth

Five-man infield causes confusion in ninth

ATLANTA -- A desperate situation called for a drastic decision, and Marlins manager Don Mattingly made it in the ninth inning on Sunday at SunTrust Park. With runners on the corners and one out, Miami went with an extra infielder in the hopes of turning a double play or having a play at the plate.

The Marlins got what they were hoping for -- Brandon Phillips chopped a seemingly routine ground ball up the middle. Instead of turning an inning-ending double play, shortstop JT Riddle and second baseman Dee Gordon hesitated, and the ball bounced into center for a walk-off single in Miami's 5-4 loss.

"I should have dove for it and caught it," Riddle said.

If Riddle had more decisively gone for the ball, he is confident he could have turned the double play that would have forced extra innings.

"Yeah, for sure," Riddle said. "I think we turn the double play. Even if there's a dive involved, we turn the double play. Dee's standing on the bag. It's kind of one of those in-between balls."

Marlins deploy five-man infield

For the second straight day, Phillips delivered the walk-off hit for the Braves. On Saturday, he singled to center in the 10th inning of an 8-7 comeback victory.

On Sunday, Phillips' slow roller found just the right spot. In the ninth inning, the Braves threatened off Drew Steckenrider, collecting one-out singles by Johan Camargo and Ender Inciarte to put runners on the corners.

Mattingly shifted things around, moving left fielder Marcell Ozuna to second base to give Miami five infielders.

"We were just trying to cover more ground," Mattingly said. "You do it all the time when you're in a situation where you don't want a ball to go through. So you want to try to put an extra guy there to cover more ground.

"That's the whole thing, trying to get the ground ball and either turn the two-ball right there or get the guy at home. He kind of rolled it right where we weren't."

Ozuna lined up more at the second-base spot, and Gordon shifted near the bag at second. Riddle was mid-depth at short.

Phillips' grounder was between Riddle and Gordon, creating confusion between the middle infielders. If Gordon vacated the bag to get the ball, there would be no chance for a double play or a play at home. For a split second, Riddle wasn't sure if Gordon could get to the ball, so he paused.

After the ball cleared the infield, the Braves mobbed Phillips for the second straight day.

"They caught some lucky breaks the last few days," Gordon said. "But you also have to credit them. They had good at-bats in those situations to lead up to that. It's just the game. It's part of it."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.