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Braves earn 1st win by rallying past Marlins

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MIAMI — The Atlanta Braves gathered on the field for hugs and high fives, executing a flawless postgame celebration despite a lack of practice.

“It’s nice to touch people’s hands for once,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman, still grinning 20 minutes later. “It’s a nice little two-ton boulder off our shoulders.”

Adonis Garcia drove in three runs in the final three innings and the Braves rallied for their first victory of the year after nine consecutive losses, beating the Miami Marlins 6-3 on Friday night.

The Braves managed just one hit in the first six innings, trailed 3-0 in the seventh and appeared on the verge of falling to 0-10, which would have matched the worst start in franchise history in 1988.

“A three-ulcer night,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

The comeback began with three consecutive hits in the seventh, including a double by Garcia to drive in the first Atlanta run. Nick Markakis‘ RBI single in the eighth made it 3-all, and Garcia’s two-run double put the Braves ahead.

“It’s an extremely important victory, not just because it was our first one, but because we were able to come from behind,” Garcia said through a translator.

Alexi Ogando (1-0) pitched two innings. Ogando and four other relievers combined for 4 2-3 scoreless innings.

“It’s almost like a playoff win for us,” Freeman said. “You hate to say it was almost a must win, but it was almost a must win.”

Freeman singled and scored while hiking his average to .107.

Miami’s Marcell Ozuna had three hits, but struck out with the bases loaded against Arodys Vizcaino to end the eighth. Vizcaino went 1 1-3 innings and retired J.T. Realmuto on a groundout with two on in the ninth for the save.

Even though Gonzalez’s pitching changes worked, the manager second-guessed himself afterward, saying he asked too much from Vizcaino.

“I’m not real happy about my usage of the bullpen,” he said. “I don’t like putting players in positions where they might hurt themselves, and Vizcaino throwing 35 pitches doesn’t sit well with me.”

Braves starter Williams Perez allowed eight hits and three runs in 4 1-3 innings. After two starts he has an ERA of 7.00.

David Phelps (2-1) allowed two runs in one inning and was part of a meltdown by the Marlins’ bullpen, which hit two batters in a four-run eighth.

“It was one of those games,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We didn’t get the outs that we needed.”

Christian Yelich had three hits for Miami to raise his average to .429.

Marlins newcomer Wei-Yin Chen, making his second start of the year, allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings. Chen hadn’t pitched since opening day, when he was hit on the throwing elbow by a comebacker but stayed in the game, but he hardly looked rusty.

In the first 6 1-3 innings he allowed only one hit and faced the minimum, but three consecutive hits sent him packing.

The Marlins, starting a seven-game homestand, fell to 0-3 this year at home. The Braves improved to 26-12 at Marlins Park.

FIELDING WOES

Third baseman Garcia committed back to back errors in the third inning, but they didn’t lead to any runs. Garcia has four errors this season.

“The game didn’t start the way I wanted,” Garcia said, “but luckily baseball is a game of opportunities, and I got more opportunities to help the team.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Marlins: LHP Mike Dunn, who is on the DL with a strained left forearm, said he underwent a second MRI that reconfirmed the initial diagnosis of inflammation. “It’s just a matter of giving it rest,” Dunn said. There is no timetable yet for him to begin throwing.

UP NEXT

Braves RHP Bud Norris (0-2, 6.00) is scheduled to face RHP Tom Koehler (0-1, 2.84) on Saturday. Norris has a 6.18 ERA in five career starts against Miami.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.