Chris Coghlan was out taking groundballs long before most of his teammates hit the field to get loose Monday afternoon, then had one of the best games of his career at the plate.
He hasn't quit on a lost season for the Miami Marlins, and that's exactly what manager Mike Redmond wants to be seeing these days.
Coghlan tied a career high with four hits - one shy of matching Atlanta's entire output by himself - but one rough inning was all it took to doom the Marlins. Atlanta got all of its runs and hits in the fourth inning, and that was more than enough as the NL East leaders snapped a four-game slide by beating the Marlins 5-2 on Monday night.
''Guys want to finish strong,'' Redmond said. ''They want to take advantage of every at-bat that they can and every opportunity they get to play. This time is so important for guys. I think you learn the most about your ballclub in the last three weeks of the season because guys have a lot to play for. They're playing for next year. They're trying to finish off good years, maybe finish up a not-so-good year.''
Coghlan sure seemed to be getting that message.
He got four hits for the seventh time in his career, went 4 for 4 for the first time since 2010, and had two hits before anyone else in the game had even one.
''It's important, there's no doubt,'' Coghlan said about the need for a strong finish. ''I don't know what they're thinking here as an organization (about his future). ... To be able to play and get the opportunity, I'm just trying to capitalize with whatever opportunity they give me.''
The Braves' fourth was plenty to back Kris Medlen (13-12), who climbed over .500 for the first time this season.
Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis all doubled off Miami's Henderson Alvarez (3-4) to lead off that fourth inning, which became Atlanta's highest-scoring inning since a five-run fifth against Philadelphia on Aug. 2. Gattis' hit brought in two runs, and the Braves were off and running.
Chris Johnson and Elliot Johnson both had run-scoring singles, and Chris Johnson later scored on a wild pitch for a 5-0 lead.
''Five-spots are great,'' Elliot Johnson said. ''It'd been nice to put on a few more, but we're going to take it. Anytime we end up with five and they get four or less, obviously we're going to take it. You're not trying to go out there and score 10 every night. You want to get as many as you can, but as long as you get more than they get, that's all that matters.''
Atlanta (86-57) passed idle Boston (87-58) for baseball's best record, and Medlen - who went 10-1 last season - won for the 12th time in his last 18 decisions.
''It's pretty fun to look back and see that I started 1-6 and kind of turned things around,'' Medlen said. ''I'm not the one scoring the runs, and they had a huge inning for me today. It's kind of what's gotten me to this point this year.''
Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth to get his 45th save in 48 tries. Atlanta has not lost more than four straight at any point this season.
The Braves had some good news pregame, with manager Fredi Gonzalez announcing that slugger Jason Heyward - out since last month with a broken jaw - had some of ''the hardware'' that was surgically inserted to assist with the healing process removed.
''He can eat,'' Gonzalez said.
And more good news came afterward, given that the Braves - who scored 10 runs during their four-game slide - got their groove going at the plate again, if only for one inning.
''Five hits and five runs on one frame,'' Gonzalez said. ''And we made it hold up.''
The Marlins, meanwhile, remained on pace for a 100-loss season, and played without right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (ankle) for a second straight game. Stanton worked out pregame Monday and the Marlins are hopeful he could return to the lineup as early as Tuesday, though will let him make the decision on when to get back on the field.
NOTES: Miami sends RHP Tom Koehler (3-9, 4.70) to the mound Tuesday against Atlanta RHP Julio Teheran (11-7, 3.01). ... The Braves recalled C Christian Bethancourt from Double-A Mississippi before the game. ''We think the world of him,'' Gonzalez said. ... Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez, who will start Wednesday before getting shut down for the season, hit a ball off the center field statue in batting practice. Since June 1, Fernandez is 9-3 with a 1.51 ERA. ... Coghlan had Miami's first three hits. ... Marlins C Jeff Mathis left after five innings with a bruised right thumb, and is day to day.