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Dallas Keuchel impresses but Charlie Culberson saves the day again

Keuchel spun 7 1/3 shutout innings but a miraculous defensive play by Charlie Culberson was the difference in a 4-3 win.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Keuchel turned in a great performance on the mound to help the Atlanta Braves enter the All-Star break on a high note with a 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins Sunday afternoon at SunTrust Park.

The Braves struck first against Marlins starter Trevor Richards in the third inning. Ronald Acuña Jr. worked a lead off walk and then moved up to second on a ground out by Dansby Swanson. Freddie Freeman followed with a bloop single to left that scored Acuña to put Atlanta up 1-0.

That would bring Josh Donaldson to the plate who promptly jumped on a high fastball from Richards and drove it out to right center to make the score 3-0.

The homer was the 200th of Donaldson’s career and his 18th of the season. The Braves would tack on another run in the fifth when Nick Markakis hit a bloop single that scored Donaldson to make it 4-0.

Keuchel however was the story in this one as he kept the Marlins off balance for most of the afternoon. He allowed five hits and two runs in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked just one.

Keuchel came out for the eighth and got Neil Walker to pop out before walking Brian Anderson and allowing an opposite field single to Miguel Rojas. He would exit to a standing ovation after throwing 108 pitches. Chad Sobotka came on and struck out Cesar Puello but then gave up a long home run to Garrett Cooper that cut the lead to 4-3.

Luke Jackson came on and things got very interesting in the ninth. Jorge Alfaro started the inning with an infield single as he just beat the throw at first. He was originally ruled out on the play but it was overturned. Harold Ramirez followed with a single back through the box to put runners at first and second with no one out.

That brought Yadiel Rivera to the plate who popped up a bunt attempt over the charging in fielders for a single to load the bases. Neil Walker then lined out to Charlie Culberson in left who threw a laser strike home to nab Alfaro at the plate in a play that could be the highlight of the first half.

Curtis Granderson then worked a walk to reload the bases but Jackson got Miguel Rojas to fly out to Acuña in center to end it and escape disaster.

The Braves head into the All-Star break with a 54-37 record and with a six-game lead in the NL East.

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