The Marlins celebrated a few notable moments on the Fourth of July.
There was Donovan Solano’s pinch-hit single in the top of the ninth off Braves closer Craig Kimbrel to drive in the eventual game-winning run.
There was the spectacular diving catch by Giancarlo Stanton in right field to preserve it.
And there was Henderson Alvarez finally making his season and team debut to complete the starting pitching rotation the way the team had hoped for from the start of the season.
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It all resulted in a satisfying result for the Marlins, who beat the Braves 4-3 on Thursday night in front of a crowd of 35,465 and took two of three games in the series.
Solano, who rejoined the team Tuesday after being recalled from the minors and not having played since May 3, faced Kimbrel with two outs in the ninth and runners on first and second. He lined a 0-2 slider from Kimbrel into right field to score Logan Morrison from second.
Solano, who sustained a left intercostal strain that resulted in a stint on the disabled list before his minor-league assignment, went 1 for 3 with two runs scored on Wednesday as well.
“I just focused on getting a good pitch, and I went for the fastball and made an adjustment to it,” Solano said. “I feel great and excited to be back and help get this win.”
Steve Cishek closed out the game with his 17th save, aided by a great defensive play by Stanton in right field. With a runner on first and one out, Stanton got a good jump and made a diving catch to rob Dan Uggla of a potential tying hit.
Cishek then struck out B.J. Upton to end the game.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh [nuts]’ when [Uggla] hit it,” Cishek said. “I couldn’t believe [Stanton] came up with that. It really fired me up.”
The long-term victory for the Marlins (32-52), who won their eighth game in their past 10 and 10th in their past 13, was Alvarez’s presence.
Things looked dismal for Alvarez at first, though.
Alvarez gave up three runs on four hits while recording only one out to the first five batters he faced.
But Alvarez recovered after the rough start and threw five innings, allowing only one more hit after recording the final two outs of the first inning on two pitches. That began a stretch of 11 consecutive batters retired for the 23-year-old Venezuelan, who made his first start for the Marlins after his return from the disabled list.
Alvarez ran into trouble immediately after giving up what was ruled an infield single by Andrelton Simmons on a liner to third that Ed Lucas mishandled. After Jason Heyward doubled, Freddie Freeman drove in two runs on a single. Brian McCann followed with a double to put the Braves in front 3-0.
Following a visit from Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, Alvarez’s next two pitches resulted in two groundouts to end the inning.
“I fought with my command in the first inning,” Alvarez said. “After that, I was able to get back in the zone.”
Alvarez had two excellent outings at Double A Jacksonville in his final two rehab starts, pitching 14 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up five hits and striking out 13 batters without giving up a walk. Alvarez threw 68 pitches Thursday, also without walking a batter.
The Marlins had trouble backing up their pitching until the ninth as they left 12 runners on base and struck out 15 times.
One positive was center fielder Marcell Ozuna breaking out of a 0-for-10 skid with three hits in the game, including a solo home run to left on his first at-bat.
Catcher Jeff Mathis saw his string of five consecutive games with two or more RBI snapped Thursday. Mathis tied former Marlin shortstop Hanley Ramirez for the team record in that category. Mathis had 13 RBI in his previous five games.