Gattis Homers To Back Medlen's Strong Start As Braves Nip Marlins 3-2

Marc Serota

Evan Gattis hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Kris Medlen pitched 7 innings of 3 hit ball as the Braves won their fifth game in a row, defeating the Marlins 3-2.

Different night, same result for the Braves, who won their fifth game in a row by defeating the Marlins 3-2 in the middle game of their 3 game series. Evan Gattis and Justin Upton drove in all three of the Braves' runs, while Kris Medlen pitched effectively all night despite lacking the control he showed during the second half of last year.

It took the Braves until the 4th inning to score last night, but Atlanta had no trouble jumping on the board early against Wade LeBlanc and the Marlins. Andrelton Simmons got things going with a 1 out single to right off of the Marlins lefty, his first hit since rejoining the Braves lineup. After Justin Upton stuck out, Evan Gattis strode to the plate and blasted a hanging changeup from LeBlanc deep to left center field. It barely cleared the Marlins Park fence, but would have been a no doubter almost anywhere else. Gattis' blast was his second of the year in only 19 PAs, and gave the Braves a 2-0 lead that they would not relinquish.

The Marlins would get one run back in the second, when B.J. Upton misplayed a fly ball off the bat of Greg Dobbs and had it bounce off the lip of his glove. Dobbs wound up on second and would score two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Rob Brantly. Upton was charged with an error, and the run was unearned. It would be the last run Medlen allowed.

After the 2nd, Medlen would throw 5 more scoreless frames, leaving after 7 with score still 2-1. Once again, Medlen pitched well despite not having his best stuff. His command was wild most of the evening, though he only walked two men. His breaking balls, especially the changeup, weren't as sharp as they usually were, which led to him recording only 1 strikeout. Despite all this, Medlen still only allowed 3 hits, and left in line to pick up the win.

In the top of the 8th, the Braves got insurance. Simmons led off the inning with an infield single, and took second when Marlins' pitcher A.J. Ramos airmailed the throw to first. Simmons scored a few pitches later when Justin Upton boomed a double to dead center field and off the base of the wall. In many other ballparks, Atlanta's left fielder would have had his 7th home run.

Atlanta's insurance would prove important as the Marlins would get one right back in the bottom of the 8th. Eric O'Flaherty led off the inning by walking Austin Kearns, who moved to third on two groundouts and scored on Placido Polanco's RBI single. O'Flaherty got Dobbs to ground out to end the threat, and Atlanta took a 3-2 lead to the 9th.

Craig Kimbrel came in for his 4th save opportunity and wasn't sharp, walking leadoff man Donovan Solano. Rob Brantly tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt to move Solano to second, but popped up a Kimbrel fastball. A charging Ramiro Pena made a lunging snag of the shallow pop and fired back to first base in stride, doubling off Solano. It was the Braves' best defensive play of the evening. Kimbrel then struck out Adeiny Hechavarria to seal the Braves win.

With the win, Kris Medlen moves to 1-1 on the young season. Kimbrel's save was his 4th. The Braves won their fifth game in a row, and improved their league-best record to 7-1. The Braves will go for their second straight sweep tomorrow with Mike Minor on the hill. Opposing him will be Alex Sanabia.

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