J-Up sparks onslaught to top Miami in 14th
Braves erupt for six late runs in rare road win; Minor throws 6 1/3 strong
MIAMI -- Given the struggles they have encountered away from Atlanta over the past two months, the Braves did not mind having to play five extra innings to gain what has become a rare road victory.
There was certainly reason for the Braves to celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief when Justin Upton drilled a two-run double that sparked a six-run 14th inning and led Atlanta to a 7-1 win over Miami at Marlins Park on Monday night.
"We were hitting the ball hard all night, and we were putting together good at-bats," Upton said. "The ball just wasn't falling. It's easy to stay positive when you're putting barrels on the ball."
While the Braves might have encountered some offensive misfortune during the early stages of the four-hour, 14-minute contest, they were silenced long enough for the Marlins' bullpen to enter the final inning with a chance to notch the same number of consecutive outs needed to record a nine-inning perfect game.
The Marlins had retired 24 straight batters before Reed Johnson drew a walk to begin the final inning. Right-handed reliever Chris Hatcher then issued a one-out walk to Jason Heyward, before Upton laced his game-winner down the left-field line.
"It's nice to see his bat going," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Upton, who has recorded seven hits in his past 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position, equaling the hit total he recorded in his first 46 at-bats this season in this situation.
Gerald Laird provided a couple of insurance runs with a two-out single, and Chris Johnson plated two additional runs when he followed with another single off Hatcher.
Laird, who replaced Brian McCann in the bottom of the 12th, was one of the four reserves who scored runs for the Braves during their decisive rally.
"It was fun," Laird said. "Sitting down for three or four hours and then you get a chance to go in there and play. It was just fun to get in there, contribute and have a good at-bat."
While playing their longest game since their memorable 19-inning contest against the Pirates in 2011, the Braves won for just the 16th time in their past 40 road games. Their hard-earned victory also saved them the frustration of losing to the Marlins for the third time in the past seven days.
"We had tons of opportunities and just couldn't get the big hit," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "In those games, those close games, it comes down to who's going to get it, and they got it."
Before the 14th inning, the Braves had not produced a baserunner since Heyward tripled and scored on Upton's game-tying sacrifice fly off left-handed reliever Dan Jennings in the sixth inning. They kept themselves in position to win, as their bullpen provided stellar work in relief of Mike Minor, who bounced back from a few rough outings to limit the Marlins to one run in 6 1/3 innings.
The Braves had retired 15 straight batters before Giancarlo Stanton opened the bottom of the 13th inning with a single -- the game's first hit since the sixth inning. After David Carpenter hit Marcell Ozuna with a 3-2 pitch to put runners on first and second with none out, Freddie Freeman threw to second base to begin a potentially game-saving double play after fielding Logan Morrison's grounder. Carpenter then retired Adeiny Hechavarria to end the threat and the second of his two scoreless innings.
"That's a big double play right there," Laird said. "That's kind of nice when you get to that part of the lineup, and you know they're not going to bunt with their big hitter up. So if you can make a pitch and get a double play, you ruin their whole momentum."
Gonzalez has always been hesitant to use Craig Kimbrel in non-save situations on the road. But he opted to bring in his All-Star closer to pitch what ended up being a scoreless 11th inning.
"You look at your [lineup] card, and you look at your guys in the bullpen and their guys in the bullpen, and I was like, 'OK, I'm going to use Kimbrel here,'" Gonzalez said. "Then [Marlins left-handed reliever Mike Dunn] goes out and gives them two solid innings, and I was thinking, 'OK, I might have made a mistake here.'"
Minor needed just 36 pitches to complete the first three innings, and he retired the first 10 batters he faced. His brief run at perfection ended when Ed Lucas lined a double to center with one out in the fourth inning. Lucas' liner would have likely resulted in a routine out, had B.J. Upton not been shaded toward right field.
After squandering their fourth-inning scoring opportunity, the Marlins took advantage of Hechavarria's leadoff single in the fifth. Hechavarria advanced to second on Placido Polanco's pinch-hit single and scored the game's first run when Justin Ruggiano followed with another two-out single.
Minor was staring at potential trouble in the sixth when the Marlins loaded the bases with a Derek Dietrich two-out single that bounced into foul territory down the third-base line, before making a sharp turn back into the infield grass. But the Braves southpaw killed that threat when he struck out Jeff Mathis with a 3-2 fastball.
"It's a weird game," Laird said. "We just had to take it one at-bat at a time and grind it out. I'm proud of the way we played today."