(Tuesday, September 25th)
Final Score: Atlanta 4, Miami 3
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Freddie Freeman belted the game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Atlanta Braves clinched a playoff spot with a 4-3 victory over the Miami Marlins in the opener of a three-game series at Turner Field.
Facing Mike Dunn (0-3), Chipper Jones led off the frame with a double into the right-center field gap and moved to third on a wild pitch by Dunn. After taking the first two sliders for a 1-1 count, Freeman hammered a low fastball deep and over the center field wall, sending the Braves to the postseason for the second time in the last three seasons.
"We've lost a lot of games, and to lose a game like that, it's heart- breaking," Dunn said. "Especially with the way the team played today. They battled. (Marlins starter Nate) Eovaldi pitched his butt off today. We just fought and never gave up. Then to just give it up on two hitters, it sucks."
Craig Kimbrel (3-1) earned the win with a scoreless top of the ninth. Starter Kris Medlen went seven strong innings, allowing three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts. The Braves have won each of Medlen's last 22 starts dating back to 2010.
Jones finished with an RBI and two runs scored, while Dan Uggla added an RBI base knock for the Braves, who have won four of their last five. Atlanta sits four games behind the Washington Nationals, who fell to Philadelphia on Tuesday, for the NL East lead with eight games to play.
Atlanta blew an 8 1/2 game lead in the wild card race last season, but have played very well in September this year, going 15-7.
"There was never any doubt (we would make the playoffs)," Jones said. "We knew that last year was somewhat of a fluke. We kind of got caught not really knowing what to expect. This year we took the bull by the horns. We were shooting for the stars. We're still shooting for the division until they (Washington) close it out."
Donovan Solano clubbed a two-run home run and a solo shot for the Marlins, who lost for the fifth consecutive time. Entering play on Tuesday, Solano had no RBI in his first 251 major league at-bats. Jose Reyes had three hits in the setback.
Miami jumped on Medlen early, picking up a run in the second inning when Solano ripped a fastball deep and just over the wall in left for his first major-league home run.
Atlanta got it right back in the home half. Jones worked a leadoff walk and Freeman poked a base hit through the right side of the infield. Uggla then sent a grounder into left for a hit, allowing Jones to score despite running through a stop sign at third base.
The Braves finally broke the deadlock with a run in the sixth as Jason Heyward ripped one over the head of center fielder Gorkys Hernandez with one out and hustled all the way to third, before trotting home on a sacrifice fly by Jones.
The hosts' lead was quickly erased in the seventh as Greg Dobbs singled with two down in the frame and Solano tagged Medlen again, this time for a two-run shot on an 0-2 fastball, to make it 3-2 Miami.
Miami fell to 4-12, including a 2-5 mark in Atlanta, against the Braves this season ... Braves center fielder Michael Bourn missed the game due to a sore thumb .... Freeman's walk-off blast traveled an estimated 428 feet ... Atlanta went 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left four on base, while Miami was 0-for-1 with RISP ... Eovaldi allowed two runs on four hits with eights Ks and two walks over six innings.
09/26 02:29:46 ET