Just when it looked like the Braves’ winning streak with Kris Medlen on the mound would come to an end, Freddie Freeman kept it alive with a game-ending homer in the bottom of the ninth.
The Braves secured a wild-card playoff spot with their 4-3 victory over the Marlins and, in the process, continued their run of wins when Medlen starts to 22 consecutive games dating to the 2010 season.
On a night when Donovan Solano not only hit his first major-league home run, but added another off perhaps the hottest pitcher in the majors, the Marlins still lost their fifth in a row.
With the Braves trailing 3-2, Chipper Jones opened the ninth with a double off left-handed reliever Mike Dunn. Freeman followed with his 22nd home run, giving the Braves a spot in the postseason.
“Any move we make, it seems like the wrong one,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We tried to put this kid [Dunn] to close the game. [Steve] Cishek has struggled a little bit against lefties the last couple of games, and we tried to get through the first two hitters and bring Cishek in to face Dan Uggla.”
But the Marlins never got that far.
Until Tuesday, Solano had not hit a home run all season in either the majors or minors, a total of 411 at-bats without one. But he took Medlen deep in the second inning and, with the Marlins trailing 2-1, hit a two-run shot to right-center in the seventh to put Miami on top.
Embattled reliever Heath Bell pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, but Dunn couldn’t shut the door.
“With Freeman, I tried to get a fastball by him on the outside corner,” Dunn said. “But it wasn’t on the black — outer third.”
The comeback spoiled another solid performance by Marlins rookie starter Nathan Eovaldi.
Eovaldi was in line for a win in his previous outing when he held the Braves scoreless through eight innings. But the Braves scored three in ninth off Cishek to pull out the win and deny Eovaldi the win.
On Tuesday, he had another win taken from him when Dunn couldn’t preserve a 3-2 lead.
Giancarlo Stanton, who has been out since Sept. 17 because of a strained intercostal muscle, is optimistic that he could return to the lineup on Wednesday after testing the injury on Tuesday.
Stanton said he took about 70 cuts in the batting cage.
“Went pretty good,” Stanton said. “It’s still there, but it’s the best I felt. I figure we have one shot left in the season. So you [either] wait it out until you have two games left, or you push it a little early and see what you got. I’d rather push it than rehab it after we’re done.”
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