ATLANTA -- The Braves broke Sunday afternoon's rubber match open with four runs in the seventh to hand starter Mike Minor his team-leading 12th win of the year in a 9-4 series-clinching victory over the Marlins.
After Joey Terdoslavich drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the seventh, Jason Heyward singled to right to push the potential go-ahead run to third. B.J. Upton lined out to left, allowing Terdoslavich to tag and score the go-ahead run easily.
Two batters later, Evan Gattis cranked a double high off the center-field wall, scoring Heyward with his second double and third hit of the afternoon. Chris Johnson followed that with a two-run, opposite-field double that crossed up Miami right fielder Giancarlo Stanton in the sun.
The four-run outburst came at the expense of Marlins relievers Dan Jennings and A.J. Ramos, members of a bullpen that helped Nathan Eovaldi's sterling outing stand up on Saturday night, when the Braves had their 14-game winning streak snapped in a 1-0 loss.
Despite the final result, the Atlanta offense needed a few innings to shake the mini-slump brought on by Eovaldi's dominant stuff the night before. After leaving the bases loaded in the fourth inning, the Braves nearly squandered another opportunity with runners in scoring position in the fifth.
Minor led off the inning with a single to shallow center field and moved to second when Heyward lined a single of his own into center. Justin Upton stepped in and laid down a rare bunt on the first pitch he saw. The ball died in fair territory to the left of the batter's box, but Miami catcher Koyie Hill's throw beat Minor to third base, retiring the lead runner.
To make matters worse, Upton pulled up with a cramp in his left hamstring after reaching on the fielder's choice. He was replaced on the basepaths by his brother B.J. Upton. Freddie Freeman atoned for the unsuccessful bunt with his 14th home run of the season, a three-run shot to the opposite field. With the homer, Freeman improved his average to .358 (43-for-120) with 60 RBIs with runners in scoring position this season.
The Marlins jumped ahead with three runs in the second inning, thanks in part to a pair of shaky plays in the outfield by the Atlanta defense. After Jake Marisnick opened the scoring with an RBI single to left, Hill sent a shallow pop fly to right field in which second baseman Dan Uggla appeared to call off Heyward. But Uggla lost the ball in the sun, pushing Marisnick to third.
Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez stepped in and roped a sharp line drive to left field, just over the head of Justin Upton, who moved to his left before tracking back as the ball landed over his head and bounced to the wall. Alvarez's two-run double was his fifth hit of the year and gave the Marlins an early 3-0 lead.
Minor, who had given up a total of five earned runs after the All-Star break heading into Sunday, allowed four runs on six hits and a walk over seven innings.
Heyward's RBI single in the eighth brought home outfielder Jordan Schafer, who was making his first start since fouling a ball off his right ankle on June 26, to cap the scoring. It gave the 24-year-old Heyward the fourth four-hit game of his career.
---- Source: MLB.com
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt