Thrive on the road and play lackluster at home was becoming a trend for the Braves, but they bucked it in spectacular fashion Sunday afternoon with a ninth-inning rally for the ages.
Dansby Swanson’s two-out, two-run single capped a six-run final inning and gave the Braves a thrilling 10-9 walk-off win over the Marlins to clinch a series and finish the homestand with a flourish at SunTrust Park.
“There’s not many words I can say,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman, who had the first of the Braves’ four two-out hits in the ninth. “That was probably one of the most exciting games I’ve every played in or been a part of. What these guys have been doing, just grinding at-bats no matter what the score is, that was pretty incredible to watch.”
Swanson capped it with his pulled line-drive hit to left field on a 98-mph fastball from Tayron Guerrero with the count 2-2, after Swanson had fouled off two other 98-mph heaters. The hit would’ve been a double but Swanson was mobbed by teammates after crossing first base.
“I do enjoy those situations,” Swanson said after his second major league walk-off hit and first this season. “If the game’s going to be on the line I’d like to be up there, and I feel like everybody else in the dugout feels the same way with themselves. It just shows a lot about who we are and what we take pride in.”
It was the biggest ninth-inning comeback win for the Braves since Brooks Conrad’s walk-off grand slam capped a seven-run ninth inning for a 10-9 win against the Reds exactly eight years earlier, on May 20, 2010 at Turner Field.
This time, the Braves rallied without so much as an extra-base hit in the ninth, instead getting it done with three walks -- including Ryan Flaherty’s with one out to start the rally -- plus a sacrifice fly, five singles and a Marlins error.
“Yeah, great at-bats,” said Braves veteran Nick Markakis, who followed Ronald Acuna’s sacrifice fly and Freeman’s two-out single with an RBI hit that drove in the third run of the inning. “Don’t try to do too much, just put the ball in play and let everything play out itself.”
Since Brian Snitker took over as manager of the Braves on May 16, 2016 -- interim manager initially -- his team leads the majors with 43 wins in its final at-bat, including six this season.
“We have fun as a team, and we’re good,” Markakis said. “We’re good and we have fun and that leads to good things. Today was a team win, not just one person doing it but everybody, and it was awesome.”
Julio Teheran gave up a slam and Marlins led 6-0 after five innings, but the National League East’s last-place team couldn’t hold on against the division-leading Braves.
The Braves finished a 3-2 homestand and head to Philadelphia to start a three-game series Tuesday against the second-place Phillies, who are 1 ½ games back.
The Braves scored nine runs in the final four innings, and their ninth-inning rally continued after the Markakis hit with a Tyler Flowers walk and an RBI single from pinch hitter Kurt Suzuki.
Johan Camargo drew a two-out walk against Guerrero to load the bases and brought up Swanson, who was nearly hit by a pitch before his drive to left field brought in the tying and winning runs.
Teheran didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, when he fell apart in a six-run frame that saw the Marlins send 11 batters to the plate and rookie Lewis Brinson hit the first grand slam of his career.
The Braves had only one hit in the first five innings against Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and trailed 6-0 before getting two runs in the sixth on four consecutive one-out singles including run-scoring hits from Freeman and Markakis to chase Chen from the game.
Teheran was 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA in his past seven starts before Sunday, when he gave up seven hits, six runs, three walks and hit two batters in five innings.
He hit Miguel Rojas twice with pitches before Rojas homered twice in the late innings against relievers Lucas Sims and A.J. Minter.
Teheran’s problems in the fourth inning began when Justin Bour hit a leadoff triple that caromed off the center-field wall and left Ender Inciarte in a heap on the warning track, after Inciarte slammed into the padded wall at full speed trying to make a leaping catch.
Inciarte stayed in the game until the seventh inning, when Acuna moved over to center field and Charlie Culberson took over in left field as part of a double-switch.
Manager Brian Snitker said Inciarte was just sore and should be ready to play Monday.
While the next batter was up, Bour scored on a Teheran balk. Starlin Castro doubled, Brian Anderson singled, Derek Dietrich walked and Rojas hit an RBI single before Brinson delivered the big blow, a mammoth, 450-foot homer near the left-field line that cleared the bases for a 6-0 lead.
In 18 career starts at SunTrust Park, Teheran is 3-10 with a 6.11 ERA and 18 homers allowed in 98-2/3 innings.
After the Braves cut the lead to 6-2 in the sixth inning, the Marlins answered with a two-run homer by Rojas off Sims, who was recalled from Triple-A earlier Sunday after the Braves released veteran third baseman Jose Bautista.
Acuna added a two-run single for the Braves in the seventh inning and sacrifice fly in the ninth, giving him five RBIs in five games on the homestand after he’d driven in one run in his previous nine games.