Gattis homer in 10th gives Braves a 4-3 win at Miami

Atlanta Braves' Evan Gattis (24) celebrates with Ramiro Pena during the 10th inning of a baseball game in Miami against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. His hit was ruled a home run rather than a triple. The Braves won 4-3 in the 10th inning. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Credit: J Pat Carter

Credit: J Pat Carter

Atlanta Braves' Evan Gattis (24) celebrates with Ramiro Pena during the 10th inning of a baseball game in Miami against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. His hit was ruled a home run rather than a triple. The Braves won 4-3 in the 10th inning. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

MIAMI – A 32-second review was all that umpires needed to change a triple to a decisive homer for Evan Gattis in the 10th inning Saturday night at Marlins Park, where El Oso Blanco's longball allowed the Braves to pull out a much-needed 4-3 win against Miami.

“You have a really good feeling when he comes up in those situations,” Braves reliever David Carpenter said of Gattis, who has four game-winners among five homers in 54 at-bats against the Marlins this season. “He’s Paul Bunyan with a bat, that’s basically what he is.”

Gattis’ 22nd homer was the second overturned call that went the Braves’ way in the final two innings, after momentum shifted to the Marlins in a two-run eighth that erased a 3-1 lead. That robbed Alex Wood of a win on a night when he came through with his arm and bat, pitching seven strong innings and hitting a two-run single.

“All I care about is us winning,” Wood said. “Gattis had a big knock there in extra innings, and the rest is history.”

Gattis led off the 10th by pulverizing the first pitch from reliever Bryan Morris, sending it high off the tall, lime-green center-field wall. It rolled all the way back to the middle of the outfield as the burly catcher barreled around to third base with his third hit of the night.

“I saw it kick off (the wall) and he didn’t have the ball as I was rounding second,” Gattis said, “so I had to go to third. I put my head down and ran.”

Even before the Braves could challenge the call, the umpires took the initiative to review it. Replays showed the ball hit above the yellow line in a small triangle of green space on the padded wall, just below the mammoth home-run sculpture that rises beyond the fence.

A quick decision was made. Crew chief Jerry Layne pointed toward Gattis and to home plate. Home run.

Gattis was winded, but not at all upset over having to run so hard on his 22nd homer.

“No, not at all,” he said, smiling. “Not in that situation. I was stoked to just put us ahead.”

It was his eighth homer in 92 career at-bats against the Marlins and his sixth homer and 16th RBI in 14 games at Marlins Park, one of the most pitcher-friendly, spacious fields in the majors.

“I don’t even think it was a mistake (pitch),” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Morris’ first-pitch slider. “I think he just got a ball that he could handle and hit it out of the ballpark. He’s that strong.”

The Braves evened the series at a game apiece and pulled back even with Milwaukee for the second and final National League wild-card spot with 20 games to go. The Braves also trimmed a game off Washington’s lead in the NL East, but the Nationals still have a six-game advantage.

Wood got no decision on a night when he did plenty of everything to help get a win.

The Braves had scored one or no runs while he was in the game in six of 13 starts since he returned to the rotation in late June. This time, he took matters into his own hands, hitting a two-run, two-out single to give his team a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning.

It was his first two-RBI hit since his senior year in high school. But it wasn’t enough to get a win for the young left-hander, who exited with a 3-1 lead and a runner at first base in the eighth inning.

Jordan Walden stumbled in relief. He walked the first batter he faced, Donovan Solano. Freddie Freeman bobbled Giancarlo Stanton’s grounder and had to settle for the out at first base. That put two runners in scoring position, and Casey McGehee singled to drive in both and tie the score.

Wood, who had been in line for a win and game-winning RBI, got neither after Walden’s rocky outing, which also included a wild pitch that advanced McGehee to third base with two out. At that point, Carpenter (6-3) came in to strike out Jeff Baker to end the inning.

Carpenter came up huge again in the ninth inning when he made an acrobatic play to field a toss from Freeman and tag Jordany Valespin for the third out. Initially that was ruled a single, but the Braves challenged and got that call overturned, too.

After the Marlins elected to intentionally walk No. 8 hitter B.J. Upton with first base open in the fourth inning, Wood’s bases-loaded single to center field turned a one-run lead into a 3-0 advantage.

But his was one of only two hits for the Braves in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position. They failed to add runs after getting two runners in scoring position with one out in the fifth inning and after loading the bases with one out in the sixth.

“That’s kind of been a theme – we’ve had opportunities,” said Gattis, who was 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position, including a bases-loaded strikeout. “But we did hit the ball today. Something to build on.”

For Wood, it was his second solid outing in seven days against the Marlins. He pitched eight innings of five-hit ball with 12 strikeouts in a 1-0 win against them last Sunday. The opposing pitcher both times was Nathan Eovaldi, who gave up eight hits and three runs in 6 1/3 innings Saturday, got no decision, and remained 1-6 since the All-Star break.

Eovaldi has a 5.37 ERA since the break, but the hard-throwing right-hander pitched well against the Braves last weekend and had a 2.26 ERA in 11 career starts against them before Saturday.

Just two National League starting pitchers have received less run support this season than Wood, and Eovaldi is one. The Marlins scored 3.03 runs per nine innings that he pitched before Saturday; the Braves provided 3.17 runs per nine for Wood.

After the Braves failed to advance the runner following a one-out single in the first inning and a leadoff single in the second, they punched through in the fourth after Justin Upton was hit by a pitch with one out. Gattis followed with a single, and Andrelton Simmons’ two-out single gave the Braves a 1-0 lead.

After the Marlins walked B.J. Upton to load the bases, Wood singled to push the lead to 3-0. The second-year pitcher was 2-for-34 at the plate this season, with two walks and 22 strikeouts, before picking up his first RBIs with the hit off Eovaldi.

The Marlins answered with a run in the bottom of the inning before Wood struck out Eovaldi with the bases loaded to limit the damage following three consecutive two-out singles. McGehee had drawn a one-out walk, advanced to second on Marcell Ozuna’s groundout in front of the mound, and scored when Baker bounced a two-out single up the middle.

Two more soft singles loaded the bases before Wood got out of the inning while reducing his average allowed with runners in scoring position and two outs to .135 (7-for-50) with 20 strikeouts.

The Braves had chances to add insurance runs in the fifth, after Freeman singled and Justin Upton doubled high off the center-field wall. With one out and runners at second and third, Gattis popped out in foul territory to the second baseman and Tommy La Stella grounded out.

They had another opportunity in the seventh after loading the bases on a leadoff single by Jason Heyward, a one-out single by Freeman and a Justin Upton walk. Gattis struck out and La Stella grounded out to end the inning.

Heyward also led off the ninth inning with a single and moved to second on Phil Gosselin’s sacrifice. That put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position and the heart of the order up. Freeman grounded out, moving Heyward to third base, and Justin Upton struck out to end the inning.