Things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth, with Giancarlo Stanton at the plate with two runners on, but Jason Grilli made him look like a lost high schooler at the plate with a pair of breaking balls and then a high fastball to ring him up on three pitches. Just before he walked Christian Yellich on four straight pitches. Sometime's baseball is just funny that way.
Atlanta got on the board in the second inning after a nice plate appearance from Norris loaded up the bases and kept the inning alive with two outs. With A.J. Pierzynski at third base and Erick Aybar at second, Nick Markakis was able to hit a q-shot blooper into shallow right field to drive in two and give the Braves the first runs of the game.
The Marlins struck back for a run of their own in the bottom half of the second, after Justin Bour did his best Markakis impression at the plate, singling to shallow left exactly as Markakis did just before. He scored old Atlanta favorite, Martin Prado, who led the inning off with a double down the left field line and is hitting an extremely strong __ so far this season.
Adeiny Hechavarria took away the Braves brief lead in the next at-bat, taking advantage of a hanging Norris slider over the plate to launch his first home run of the season into the left field stands and give the Marlins a 3-2 lead.
Hechavarria must have felt bad though, because he helped the Braves tie the game at three in the top of the third after throwing away a potential inning-ending double play and allowing Pierzynski to reach second. Kelly Johnson's hustle double to shallow center field scored Pierzynski one batter later, continuing this surprising recent trend of hitters doing well with two outs and runners in scoring position.
The top of the fourth inning was the highlight of the game, and it proved to be decisive, as Atlanta scored three runs on four hits to take a 6-3 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Mallex Smith started the frame with a leadoff double off the right field wall, and after another successful plate appearance by Norris (this time a sac bunt to move Smith to third), Markakis, Beckham and Freeman came up with three consecutive hits to spot the team a trio of runs.
All of the hits in this inning were hard hit balls, with Markakis and Freeman both doubling along with Smith. After he got Adonis Garcia to fly out to right field, that was it for Tom Koehler, who finished with the following line: 3.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R (5 ER) 2 BB, 1 K.
Norris lasted a few frames longer on the mound, but ran into some trouble of his own in the bottom of the sixth, when Justin Bour continued to be a thorn in Atlanta's side, homering to right center field on an 81-mph slider. After allowing an infield single to J.T. Realmuto and walking Hechavarria, Norris' day was done.
Hunter Cervenka entered and managed to get out of the jam by striking out Chris Johnson â yes, that Chris Johnson â and Dee Gordon to finalize Norris' line without allowing any runs. Norris finished the day with 5.1 innings, seven hits, four earned runs, three walks and five strikeouts on 98 pitches (59 for strikes).
This was a nice showing from the team all-around, with the offense picking up a decent start from Norris and the bullpen combining for 3.2 shutout innings and just one hit allowed. One thing that might be concerning though is that Gordon Beckham had to leave after grounding out in the top of the sixth with a left hamstring strain. Given the Braves injury situation already, the depth of this team is certainly being tested.
The Braves will go for the sweep tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. ET.