The Braves arrived in Miami saddled with an 0-9 record and manager Fredi Gonzalez’s job security appearing tenuous, at best. They left Sunday after a 10-inning, 6-5 victory, buoyed by a three-game sweep of the Marlins, the wins against his former team likely providing a temporary reprieve for Gonzalez.
Rookie Mallex Smith’s two-out single in the 10th drove in the go-ahead run, after the Braves blew a 5-0 lead and the Marlins tied the score with a run in the ninth, one strike from a victory.
“There’s nothing better than getting on the bird with a win and a series sweep, and then an off day tomorrow,” said Gonzalez, whose Braves are off Monday before an eight-game homestand starting Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Drew Stubbs walked with two out to start the 10th-inning rally against Edwin Jackson, and Jace Peterson followed with a single before Smith’s first-pitch hit up the middle drove in the winning run.
“I didn’t want to miss my fastball,” Smith said. “I’ve been missing a lot of fastballs. I just didn’t want to miss my fastball if I got it. … It’s definitely a good feeling. Any time you can help the team win it’s a great feeling.”
Matt Wisler, who had been scheduled to start Tuesday, pitched a perfect 10th inning for his first save, throwing a little harder (95 mph) than usual. He’ll be switched to Wednesday or Thursday and the Braves might start Julio Teheran on regular rest Tuesday, Gonzalez said.
The Braves scored four runs in the first inning, including a Peterson’s bases-loaded double, and led 5-0 before seeing the lead evaporate on three runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and Ichiro Suzuki’s two-out, game-tying single in the ninth inning off Jason Grilli, the sixth Braves pitcher.
Grilli might’ve had a clean inning if Chris Johnson’s bloop hadn’t fallen between second baseman Peterson and right fielder Nick Markakis for a leadoff single. Gonzalez went with Grilli to close instead of Arodys Vizcaino to give Vizcaino a second day off following his 35-pitch, four-out save Friday.
Gonzalez was questioned about removing starter Jhoulys Chacin with one out in the sixth, after he’d given up a run on three singles in the inning, none of which were hard-hit balls. Chacin had allowed just one base runner before the sixth inning and finished with 88 pitches.
Of the three runs charged to Chacin, two scored after he left the game in the sixth. He’s No. 5 in the rotation, but so far has pitched like the Braves’ best starter.
“This is the second time I’ve seen him pitch in real competition, under real stress,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t know what we have from him yet, and we had a chance to get the sweep from that point. We had some matchups that were favorable, so we took advantage of it.”
Peterson’s three-run double made him a stunning 10-for-17 in his career with bases loaded, with three doubles, a triple, a grand slam and 25 RBIs. The grand slam was also at Marlins Park last season.
“For whatever reason, bases loaded I feel like I get locked in,” Peterson said. “Maybe from now on I’ll just act like they’re loaded all the time. I was just able to get a good pitch and put a good swing on it. All the guys in front of me had great at-bats to get me in that situation, and it worked out.”
Nick Markakis doubled on the second pitch of the game from Jarred Cosart, after Markakis singled on the first pitch of Saturday’s game. Freddie Freeman’s single drove in a run, and A.J. Pierzynski and Kelly Johnson drew consecutive two-out walks before Peterson cleared the bases.
The Braves added a run in the sixth before the Marlins scored the next five, peppering Chacin and the bullpen.
Chacin was perfect until Martin Prado’s one-out single in the fourth, and didn’t allow another baserunner until the sixth, when the Marlins started the inning with singles on two ground balls and a soft fly. Chacin was pulled after striking out the next batter, Prado.
The bullpen that produced 8 1/3 scoreless innings in the first two games of the series couldn’t hold down the Marlins this time. Left-hander Hunter Cervenka replaced Chacin and walked Christian Yelich. With bases loaded, Alexi Ogando got ahead 0-2 against struggling slugger Giancarlo Stanton before hitting him in the hip with a pitch that brought in the second run of the inning. Stanton struck out in seven of his previous eight plate appearances.
Justin Bour followed with a line-drive sacrifice fly that trimmed the lead to 5-3. Ogando was replaced after a one-out double by catcher Jeff Mathis in the seventh, and Eric O’Flaherty threw a wild pitch to advance the runner, then walked Ichiro before Dee Gordon’s groundout cut the lead to 5-4.
Jim Johnson retired all four batters he faced, getting the Braves out of the seventh with a groundout and pitching a perfect eighth inning against the heart of the order.
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