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Braves vs. Marlins: Atlanta Blows Lead Late, Wins In Extra Innings

The Braves should have had the win on Tuesday night in just nine innings. Poor management and failures to cash in with runners in scoring position let the Marlins back into the game. Fortunately for Atlanta, they had Martin Prado on their side and a bullpen that would prove to be better.

Atlanta had a comfortable lead of 3-0 heading into the seventh inning. Brandon Beachy was dominating -- he had pitched six innings with just three hits, no runs and 10 strikeouts to that point -- but a brief lack of command let the Marlins back into the game. Mike Stanton walked, and after recording the first out of the inning, Mike Cameron walked as well. Beachy got Bryan Petersen to pop out in foul territory. At 105 pitches and just out left to get in the inning, one would expect the starting pitcher to remain in the game. 

Fredi Gonzalez didn't think so. He pulled his starter and brought in Anthony Varvaro, a young reliever who has had success to this point in his career despite relying on the high fastball too much. John Buck got one of those high fastballs and he sent it over the left field wall to tie the game at 3-3. 

The game headed into extras and made it all the way into the 11th before concluding. Eric Hinske walked to lead off the inning, but pinch-runner Jason Heyward was picked off first base. Replays indicated Heyward was probably safe, but to no avail. Fortunately, Michael Bourn continued his excellent play since coming over last week and doubled. Martin Prado, who previously homered and drove in a run with an RBI-single, hit a ball through the right side of the infield. Bourn raced around third base and scored easily after Mike Stanton airmailed the throw.

Stanton walked to lead off the bottom half of the inning, but Brett Hayes bunted the ball right into Freddie Freeman's glove for the first out. Mike Cameron hit a ball well, but it was right at Alex Gonzalez who started a 6-4-3 double play.

Atlanta wins a thriller 4-3. They'll go for the series sweep Wednesday night, weather permitting. It'll be Tim Hudson against Anibal Sanchez.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.