Marlins 5, Braves 4

Steve Cishek works extra for his save as Miami Marlins complete sweep of Braves

 

The Marlins called on closer Steve Cishek an inning earlier than usual, and he preserved the lead as Miami completed a sweep of Atlanta.

 
Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond greets Casey McGehee, Ed Lucas and pitcher Steve Cishek,after the Marlins defeated the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park in Miami on Thursday, May 1, 2014.
Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond greets Casey McGehee, Ed Lucas and pitcher Steve Cishek,after the Marlins defeated the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park in Miami on Thursday, May 1, 2014.
Pedro Portal / Staff Photo

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

Steve Cishek was on his way to use the restroom when the bullpen phone rang suddenly.

It was the eighth inning. Cishek normally only pitches the ninth.

But with the Marlins clinging to a 5-4 lead and the Braves threatening to score, the call was made to get Cishek ready.

As in immediately.

“Got stopped in my tracks,” Cishek said. “I had to get ready real quick.”

Cishek got the Marlins through the eighth, striking out pinch-hitter Ramiro Pena, before working the ninth to preserve the victory and the Marlins’ first sweep over the Atlanta Braves since 2009.

It was Cishek’s first save requiring him to deliver more than three outs in nearly two years. It was the Marlins’ first sweep over the Braves in South Florida since 2006.

Unlike the first two games of the season, both blowout victories by the Marlins, Thursday’s finale between the two division rivals was a seesaw battle in which the lead exchanged hands before the Marlins finally prevailed.

But with the Braves leading 4-3 in the seventh and second baseman Dan Uggla shaded close to the bag, Giancarlo Stanton beat the shift by slapping an RBI single through the right side of the infield.

One batter later, again with the Braves infield shifted toward the left, Casey McGehee drove in the go-ahead run with a sharp single to right.

“Obviously, you know where they’re playing,” McGehee said of the Braves’ defensive strategy.

The result was another big night at the plate for the Marlins, who totaled 10 hits, including a solo homer by Garrett Jones.

The victory required a late-inning comeback by the Marlins, though.

After taking a 2-0 lead on Braves starter Ervin Santana, the Marlins turned to Henderson Alvarez to shut down Atlanta.

But just after he was involved in a play at first in which he fell to the ground and bruised his shoulder, Alvarez gave up a three-run homer to B.J. Upton. It was the first home run he had ever allowed at Marlins Park.

“The play at first, I fell on my shoulder and it kind of affected me a little bit,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez added, though, he was unaware of his home run prevention rate at Marlins Park.

“I think he was just up in the zone,” Redmond said.

In the sixth, after the Marlins had tied the score, Evan Gattis took Alvarez deep to left to put the Braves back on top 4-3. It was the first time since the 2012 season, when he was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, that Alvarez had given up more than one homer in a game.

Still, it came down to the Marlins’ bullpen to preserve the win.

Mike Dunn worked a clean seventh before A.J. Ramos took over in the eighth, an inning that has given the Marlins much trouble this season. And, for a moment, it looked like the eighth would spell trouble again.

Justin Upton opened the frame by blooping a double down the line in right to get things going for the Braves. After Gattis was retired on a fly ball and Christian Yelich made a diving catch on Dan Uggla’s liner to left for the second out, Ramos had to face Chris Johnson, who had singled in each of his first three at-bats.

Johnson fouled off four consecutive 3-2 pitches before drawing a walk.

That’s when Cishek was summoned to get the last out of the inning.

Redmond said he and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez had recently discussed the possibility of going to Cishek earlier than the ninth, and Thursday provided the right opportunity.

“We were kind of preparing for it in case they got a couple of runners on,” Redmond said. “It all sort of came together.”

Cishek walked Andrelton Simmons, loading the bases, before striking out Pena. He worked a 1-2-3 ninth to get the save, retiring Freddie Freeman to end the game.

Freeman has gone 0 for 24 so far this season against the Marlins.

For Cishek, it was only his third career save involving more than three outs, and his first such save since Aug. 26, 2012.

Read more Miami Marlins stories from the Miami Herald

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