When Donovan Solano’s line drive glanced off shortstop Andrelton Simmons’ glove for a hit in the eighth inning Wednesday, Braves pitcher Ervin Santana smacked his glove and hopped in the air.
Clearly Santana was hoping to finish the inning and it was easy to see why. Santana dominated the Marlins to carry the Braves to a 6-1 victory at Turner Field.
Solano’s hit was one of just six by the Marlins over 7 1/3 innings against Santana. He left the game to a standing ovation from fans who appreciated his 10 strikeouts and one run allowed.
The Braves rode Santana’s strong start plus early production from the top of the lineup to victory.
Over the first two innings leadoff man B.J. Upton had two hits and two runs scored and No. 2 hitter Tommy La Stella had an RBI single and a sacrifice that set up the first run. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, the No. 3 hitter, broke out of a power slump with a three-run homer that staked Santana to a 5-0 lead in the second inning.
The Braves (55-46) evened their season record against the Marlins (47-53) to 6-6 with the final game of this series on Thursday. The Marlins won the opening two games after stumbling into Atlanta with losses six of their previous seven games.
Before Wednesday’s game, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez made the case that the Marlins are a deceptively good club with solid young hitters and quality pitching. Then the Braves went out and clubbed the Marlins like the standings and expectations suggest they should.
Santana was in command from the start while retiring the first six batters in order. Santana allowed an RBI single to Christian Yelich in the third inning but, from there, no Marlins made it past first base against him until Solano’s single in the eighth moved Yelich to third.
Santana walked three batters and threw 76 of his 110 pitches for strikes. The Braves backed him with plenty of runs early including Freeman’s first homer since June 27, a stretch that included 21 games.