Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte hits an RBI double to score Max Fried during the tenth inning against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, May 5, 2019, in Miami.
Photo: Lynne Sladky/AP
Photo: Lynne Sladky/AP

Ender Inciarte’s blessed bat delivers as Braves complete sweep of Marlins

One day after being held scoreless for five innings by the worst team in the majors, the Braves were blanked for six frames, watched the Miami Marlins rally in the eighth and then finally won it 3-1 in the 10th thanks to Inciarte’s opposite-field, RBI double down the third-base line.

Atlanta started the rally when pinch-hitter Josh Donaldson drew a full-count walk. Donaldson, who missed three recent games due to a calf injury, was lifted for a pinch runner — pitcher Max Fried. 

Inciarte then faked a bunt and produced his decisive double, and Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran apparently deserves some credit.

“I got a good-luck charm from Julio,” Inciarte said.

Teheran, interviewed in English, declined to say what that “good luck charm” was, but he had an answer when asked in Spanish.

“In the middle of the game, I took Ender’s bat and said, ‘Believe in this. You are going to get some big hits,’ ” Teheran said. 

That’s exactly what happened, and Inciarte’s hit helped the Braves produce just their second three-game sweep of the season. They also turned the trick on the Chicago Cubs, April 1-4.

On Sunday’s decisive play, the Marlins had a chance to get Fried, who was stumbling badly as he approached the plate. But catcher Chad Wallach couldn’t handle shortstop Miguel Rojas’ one-hop throw, and Fried dove for the plate safely.

“If the throw is there,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said, “we’ve got him.”

 

Charlie Culbertson followed with a sacrifice fly, and Luke Jackson earned his second save of the season in the bottom of the 10th, stranding a runner at third.

Both starting pitchers left with no-decisions despite tossing six scoreless innings each. Teheran allowed two hits — both singles — two walks and one hit batter, striking out four. It was his first scoreless start of the season.

Miami’s Pablo Lopez allowed three hits and one walk while striking out six.

Teheran said Marlins third baseman Martin Prado gave him a nod after striking out.

“It’s kind of fun when you throw a good pitch and the hitter gives you the credit,” Teheran said. 

Josh Tomlin (1-0) earned the win despite allowing the Marlins to tie the score in the eighth. 

Tayron Guerrero (1-1) took the loss, allowing both runs in the 10th thanks to a pair of walks and the Inciarte double. 

Pitcher Max Fried is congratulated by Braves teammates after scoring as a pinch runner on a double by Ender Inciarte during the 10th inning Sunday, May 5, 2019,in Miami.
Photo: Eric Espada/Getty Images

Neither team had a hit until the fourth inning. That’s when Atlanta threatened, putting runners on the corners following Nick Markakis’ hit-and-run single. But Tyler Flowers grounded into a double play to end the rally.

Miami put two runners into scoring position in the bottom of the fourth following Prado’s single and Neil Walker’s walk. But Miguel Rojas struck out swinging to close the inning.

Leading off the seventh, Markakis pulled a homer to right to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead. Markakis was the first batter of the night for Marlins reliever Drew Steckenrider, who served an up-and-in, 94-mph fastball.

Miami tied the score in the eighth as Jon Berti and Prado singled to set up the rally. With one out, Brian Anderson hit a 1-2 curveball for an RBI single to left. 

The Braves surged ahead after that, and Inciarte and his blessed bat proved to be the difference.

It was just the fifth career extra-innings RBI for Inciarte, who said he has been working on the fake bunt/slash play with coach Eric Young Sr.

“I’m very hard on myself,” said Inciarte, who is still hitting just .238 after his 2-for-4 game. “I know I can do way better than I’ve done. I just need to keep working hard. Hopefully, good things will continue to happen.” 

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