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Atlanta Braves sweep Miami Marlins in wild extra innings finale

The sorcery of Fredi Gonzalez must be a real thing.

Joe Skipper/Getty Images
Break out the broom sticks.

After losing their first nine games, the Atlanta Braves defeated the Miami Marlins, 6-5, in ten innings on Sunday afternoon to complete a weekend sweep at Marlins Park.

Mallex Smith's run-scoring single up the middle in the top half of the tenth was the difference. Drew Stubbs walked and advanced to third on a Jace Peterson bloop single with two outs, giving the rookie the opportunity to deliver his first career RBI.

"I just wanted to come up and find me a fastball to hit," Smith said after the game. "I just tried to stay ready and at least put something in play."

Smith had struck out twice before that hit, but came through when needed most.

"He had a tough game offensively until that point," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "The kid battled, and he's got confidence in himself. Good for him."

Jason Grilli blew the save in the ninth, and Matt Wisler came on and threw a flawless, six-pitch tenth to nail down the first save of his professional career.

Gonzalez was adamant the last few days about giving Arodys Vizcaino three days off (the Braves are off Monday) after throwing 35 pitches in a four-out save on Friday. He stuck to his guns and used Grilli for the ninth, who gave up an opposite field hit to Ichiro to score the tying run and send the game to extras. Wisler was scheduled for his side session Sunday, so Gonzalez made him available out of the pen.

"You want to win games, but you also want to have the health of your players in consideration," Gonzalez said of not going to Vizcaino. "I think that was the right move."

The offense came out of the gates firing on all cylinders to begin the game.

Nick Markakis extended his major league lead with his ninth double to lead off the game. A Freddie Freeman single followed to plate Markakis. The Braves loaded the bases on back-to-back walks by AJ Pierzynski and Kelly Johnson to set the table for Jace Peterson, who smashed a bases-clearing double to deep center and gave them a 4-0 lead before the Marlins came up to hit for the first time.

Freeman picked up his first multi-hit game of the season, with two hits and a walk in five plate appearances. It also should be noted that the Braves were a solid 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position on the day.

Jhoulys Chacin was outstanding for the second start in a row. He retired the first nine in order, and breezed through the first five innings with no trouble. But he allowed three straight hits to begin the sixth inning, and was removed with a 5-1 lead.

Chacin helped himself with an RBI single in the sixth on a soft liner to center.

He left his first start after just 69 pitches because, with a runner in scoring position, manager Fredi Gonzalez wanted to pinch hit and increase his chances of getting that run home. This time around, he was pulled after 88 pitches in favor of lefty Hunter Cervenka, who walked the only hitter he faced.

"I don't know what I was thinking there. This is the second time I've seen him pitch under competition. I don't know what we have from him yet and we had a chance to get the sweep at that point and we had some matchups that were favorable so we took advantage of it," Gonzalez said.

Alexi Ogando came on to pitch to Giancarlo Stanton, and quickly got ahead 0-2. The next pitch sailed away from Ogando and plunked him, bringing in a run since the bases were loaded. Justin Bour followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-3.

The Marlins cut the lead to a single run in the seventh, as Dee Gordon's soft grounder was enough to get Jeff Mathis home.

The light-hearted moment of the day came when Pierzynski stole second base in the first inning, and jokingly asked for the ball to commemorate the rare event.

Atlanta has the day off before welcoming the Los Angeles Dodgers to Turner Field on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Former Brave Alex Wood is set to start for the Dodgers.

**Author's note: Fredi Gonzalez is some kind of sorcerer. Heck, he proved me wrong.

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