Braves 3 (89-69), Marlins 2 (77-80)
WP: Kimbrel (4-0)
LP: Sanchez (12-12)
SV: Wagner (36)
Through 5 innings, the Braves only had 3 baserunners. Things looked bleak. Then in the sixth...2 baserunners. Jason Heyward singled, but was eliminated on a fielder's choice, and Brian McCann took over at first. Derrek Lee doubled into right field, and Brian Snitker sent McCann. He was out by about 15 feet at the plate. Inning, and best scoring threat, ever. Seventh inning comes along...and Melky Cabrera, who is inexplicably hitting 5th on this night, laces a single into right. Alex Gonzalez bunts him over to second. That brings up Brooks Conrad, the king of clutch. So what's Brooks do? Of course, he triples to center field to tie the game at one. After a Rick Ankiel strikeout, Bobby Cox pinch hits for Craig Kimbrel with Eric Hinske. And on a 3-2 pitch, Hinske launches what would be the game winning homer over the right field fence, his third coming off the bench this season. Momentum = shifted. Heyward and Lee each walked and had a hit, while Cabrera had a pair of hits. Imagine that...the decision to start Melky and hit him 5th paid off.
Tim Hudson put together a great start on only 3 days rest: 1 earned run in 6 innings, allowing 7 hits, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts. The numbers are deceptive though: of those 7 hits, 4 didn't leave the infield. One of the walks was intentional. Regardless, Hudson pitched his heart out and left it all out there. It was the kind of performance the Braves needed from him in this situation, and a similar one from Derek Lowe will be necessary as the Braves look for the sweep tomorrow. Craig Kimbrel was dominant in the 7th, striking out the side on 18 pitches without allowing a baserunner. Peter Moylan got an out in the 8th, but allowed a solo homer that cut the Braves lead to 3-2. Jonny Venters relieved him and got out of the inning. Billy Wagner struck out the side in the 9th with a walk mixed in there to pick up the save. Wagner is one strikeout shy of 100 on the season. Pretty good for a washed up 39 year old.
As I mentioned, the Braves look for the sweep tomorrow, and will send Derek Lowe to the mound to do it. Florida counters with the not very good Andrew Miller. Advantage: Braves. The wild card lead now sits at one game, with the Cubs & Padres just getting underway. Padres ace Mat Latos takes the hill against Cubs ace Ryan Dempster. Should be a good one that I won't be staying up for, as I'm ridiculously tired. Cubs fans, you've got every Braves fan in the world cheering for you tonight. You helped last night...do it again tonight, please.