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Allard earns victory in major league debut

It took Kolby Allard four pitches to settle down in his major league debut.

Not bad, kid.

The left-hander allowed two singles on his initial four deliveries in his first start for the Braves. No worries, the two baserunners were quickly eliminated. From there, Allard got the victory as the Braves went on to an 11-6 drubbing of the Marlins in a rain-delayed game Tuesday at SunTrust Park.

“Welcome in Kolby, huh?,” Allard said of the inauspicious start. “I’m just going to go out there and execute pitches. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to battle. I didn’t have my A stuff tonight but I tried to keep us in the game as long as I could.”

Of course, the youngster delivered a single to center field in his first at-bat.

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The Braves remained a half-game behind the Phillies, a 3-1 winner over the Red Sox, for first place in the National League East.

At 20 years, 352 days, Allard became the third Braves player to make his major league debut before the age of 21 this season. He joins Ronald Acuna and Mike Soroka to break in as 20-year olds.

Allard went five innings and was pulled after allowing two runs without an out in the sixth. Another run was charged to him after he left. Allard allowed nine hits, five runs (four earned) and one home run with one strikeout and two walks. He threw 81 pitches with 48 strikes.

Allard won’t remain in the majors – for now. The Braves called up Allard from Triple-A Gwinnett to give the starters in the rotation an extra day of rest. The Braves play 29 more games in the next 30 days. Manager Brian Snitker said before the game that the plan was to return Allard to the minors.

Allard, one of the top prospects in the Braves’ system, went 6-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 18 games at Triple-A before the memorable call-up.

Allard allowed the singles to the first two batters he faced – Starlin Castro and Brian Anderson – on four pitches. He got out of potential career-starting damage by getting J.T. Realmuto to foul out to third and Martin Prado to ground into a double play.

Deep breath.

Acuna gave Allard a lead with a home run to left field to start the bottom of the first inning. It was the 11th homer for Acuna this season and his first from the leadoff spot.

Allard escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third inning after allowing a single and two walks by covering first on a Prado ground ball fielded by Freddie Freeman.

Acuna is batting .333 (13-for-39) with nine runs scored and four home runs in 10 games since being moved to the leadoff spot.

“I like it,” Snitker said of the lineup change. “He is capable of things like he did tonight. You can’t forget that he’s still a 20-year-old kid learning his way in the league. For right now and going forward, hang with him right there.”

Nick Markakis gave the Braves a 3-0 lead with a two-run homer, scoring Freeman, in the third inning. It was his 12th homer of the season. 

Allard gave up two runs, one earned, in the fourth inning after Derek Dietrich was hit by a pitch, Miguel Rojas was safe on a fielder’s choice following an error by Ozzie Albies, a single by JT Riddle and a double by Magneuris Sierra. It pulled the Marlins within 3-2.

The drama was short-lived.

The Braves blew the game open in the fourth inning as they batted around and scored five runs on RBI singles by Dansby Swanson and Albies and a three-run double by Kurt Suzuki. The last run-scoring hit chased Marlins starter Dan Straily and staked Allard to an 8-2 lead. Johan Camargo added a sixth-inning homer, his 12th, as part of the Braves’ offensive onslaught. Ender Inciarte had four hits and Acuna and Freeman each had three as the Braves totaled 19 hits.

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