PHOENIX -- Asked whether Thursday night's 7-6, 10-inning win over the D-backs was entertaining, Braves manager Brian Snitker stared at the inquiring reporter and asked, "Entertaining?" Much like Joe Pesci responded to being called funny in "Goodfellas" by responding, "I mean funny, like I'm a clown, I amuse you?"
Coming off one of the season's toughest losses and facing the possibility of enduring a second consecutive late-inning meltdown, the Braves overcame Paul Goldschmidt's two-out, game-tying home run in the ninth and began a challenging West Coast trip by showing the resilient nature that has kept them in first place in the National League East.
"It felt like a heavyweight fight," Braves right-hander Dan Winkler said. "It was blow after blow. Then to bounce back every single time and make good pitches, and then the offense picked us up later in the game, I think that's just the kind of team we are. It's not easy on the blood pressure, but it's fun to watch."
The Braves, who moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the idle Phillies, had a chance to deliver a knockout blow after they tagged D-backs ace Zack Greinke for five runs (four earned) in 5 1/3 innings. But after blowing a six-run lead in the eighth inning of Wednesday's loss to the Red Sox, Atlanta squandered the 6-4 lead it carried into the ninth vs. Arizona.
In fitting fashion, this wild victory was decided by the wild pitch that scored Dansby Swanson shortly after he had slipped rounding third base earlier in the inning.
"God looked down on me for that," Swanson said. "I skidded on top of the bag, and I essentially just slipped. As soon I did, I just shut it down because I didn't want to also get thrown out by 50 feet. I was going the whole way. [Third-base coach Ron Washington] had me going the whole way. I just hit the bag wrong. I was definitely a little upset with myself about it. But we still got it done."
The Braves have repeatedly bounced back after devastating losses that could have had lingering effects. They claimed a series win over the Phillies immediately after blowing a five-run eighth-inning lead on April 14 at Wrigley Field. After being swept by the Rockies from Aug. 16-19, they won four straight and six of eight.
Now, the Braves have a chance to produce another rejuvenating streak. But it won't be easy as they spend the final six games of this trip playing the D-backs and Giants. They are 24-53 on the road against National League West opponents since the start of 2014.
"Every game from here on out is a must win," said Braves right fielder Nick Markakis, who went 4-for-5 with two RBIs. "Obviously, you're not going to win them all, but West Coast trips are hard enough. So to get the first one against a team like this is big. It was a hard-fought game throughout, and we ended up on top. So that's all that really matters."
Markakis provided an insurance run with a two-out, ninth-inning single, before Jesse Biddle blew a two-run lead, with Goldschmidt's home run forcing extras.
Swanson gave the Braves the spark they needed when he singled with two outs in the 10th and stole second base.
When Tyler Flowers followed with a single, the free-wheeling Washington was waving Swanson home before the shortstop stumbled and returned to the bag. After Brad Boxberger loaded the bases by walking Ronald Acuna Jr., Yoshihisa Hirano entered and uncorked the wild pitch that prevented the Braves from a second straight demoralizing defeat.
"It just speaks volumes about these guys," Snitker said. "After what we went through yesterday, to come out here and have this game turn like it did in the ninth inning and then they come back and win this game, it speaks volumes to the character, the resiliency and everything of this team."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bullpen blows it, then saves it: With closer A.J. Minter unavailable after throwing 36 pitches Wednesday, the Braves gave the ninth to Biddle, who allowed Christian Walker to double high off the center-field wall and then score to cut the D-backs' deficit to one run. The Braves left-hander got ahead of Goldschmidt with a 0-2 count, then delivered a center-cut 2-2 curveball that the D-backs first baseman pulverized into the left-field seats.
"We were just trying to go backdoor down," Flowers said. "That guy is dangerous. We didn't quite get it there, and he hung on long enough to backspin it to left. It was one of those risk-reward pitches. I might have called something different had I had another shot at it. But it all worked out."
Snitker also wanted to stay away from Brad Brach, who had pitched both of the previous two days and in three of the past four. Brach still had enough in the tank to end the game with a scoreless 10th.
"I really wanted to stay away from Brad," Snitker said. "I told him after the game, 'Dude, I'm not trying to kill you.' But he's a pro. He's a veteran Major League reliever. He told me, 'Whatever we have to do to win a game.'"
Markakis began his second four-hit game of the season with an RBI single during a two-run first against Greinke, who entered with a 1.99 ERA over his past 13 starts.
Kurt Suzuki added to the lead in the fourth with a two-run home run, his third in a span of 38 at-bats after enduring a homerless streak of 99 at-bats.
Johan Camargo gave the Braves a 5-3 lead in the sixth with a solo homer, his 16th of the season and his 14th since May 29. Acuna (19) is the only Braves player with more homers in that span.
After allowing a hit to each of the four batters he faced to begin Wednesday's eighth, Winkler got back on track after he entered with two on and no outs in the seventh. He escaped the jam he inherited from Sam Freeman by striking out A.J. Pollock and getting Eduardo Escobar to ground into a double play..
"I want to be in that situation," Winkler said. "I was just throwing pitches. It felt great to just get the strikeout and get back out there. Thankfully, they didn't lose trust in me and I just made pitches."
HE SAID IT
"Everything doesn't always go perfect. If it did, this would be a very predictable game. But it's not. So to be able to battle back the way we did and essentially do it time in and time out, it says a lot about these guys. It's probably my favorite thing about us." -- Swanson, on the Braves' resiliency
"You can't pace in the dugout. I was pacing in here, wearing out the carpet. It was horrible in here. I didn't want to do it. But it is what it is." -- Snitker, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes during what appeared to be a calculated mound visit in the sixth
Kevin Gausman (9-9, 3.78 ERA) will have a chance to extend his success when the Braves and D-backs resume their four-game series Friday at 9:40 p.m ET. The Atlanta right-hander has a 1.09 ERA over his past five starts. It will be Gausman's first career start vs. Arizona. The D-backs will counter with Patrick Corbin (10-5, 3.06), who allowed four runs in six innings in a loss against the Braves on July 15.