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Mallex, Markakis lead Braves to snap skid

April 28, 2016

BOSTON -- The Braves put together a steady offense against Clay Buchholz and salvaged the finale of a four-game series with the Red Sox by pulling out a 5-3 victory at Fenway Park on Thursday night. The win snapped an eight-game losing skid for Atlanta."We did a lot of good

BOSTON -- The Braves put together a steady offense against Clay Buchholz and salvaged the finale of a four-game series with the Red Sox by pulling out a 5-3 victory at Fenway Park on Thursday night. The win snapped an eight-game losing skid for Atlanta.
"We did a lot of good stuff on the whole game -- pitching-wise, offensively," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's a good baseball game. It really is a good baseball game."
After Boston scored one in the first, the Braves rallied for three in the second and led for the rest of the night.
Nick Markakis had four hits and three RBIs from the leadoff spot. Freddie Freeman and No. 9 hitter Mallex Smith added three hits each, with Smith driving in two runs.

Jhoulys Chacin did enough to get the win, going five-plus innings, allowing six hits and two runs. Buchholz took the loss, giving up eight hits and five runs over 6 1/3 innings.
"They are a tough lineup, so I was trying to keep the ball down, trying to make pitches," Chacin said. "Just want to keep going, keep giving my team the most that I can. Just trying to maybe go a little bit longer in games."
Buchholz has given up five earned runs in four of his five starts.
"I wouldn't ever go on a bad streak if I knew what I had to do not to go on them," Buchholz said. "I think it just happens sometimes. Team is going good and everybody is throwing the ball well, and it's falling on me right now. I haven't been throwing the ball as well as the other guys. It usually stops and turns and goes the other way at some point, too."

Keep the line moving:
Trailing by a run after the first inning, the Braves sent seven batters to the plate in the second. With one out, four straight batters reached and three scored to take the lead. Jace Peterson started it off with a walk, followed by a bunt single by Erick Aybar, a run-scoring ground-rule double by Smith and a two-run single by Markakis.

Confusion for Bogaerts in first: With the Red Sox rallying in the bottom of the first, a strange play unfolded. After Dustin Pedroia doubled and Xander Bogaerts walked with one out, David Ortiz hit a grounder to first, and Freeman threw to second for the force, where shortstop Aybar was covering. However, the throw pulled Aybar off the bag, and second-base umpire (and crew chief) Joe West called Bogaerts safe. However, Bogaerts apparently didn't realize he was called safe, and Aybar tagged him as he walked off the bag toward the dugout. Hanley Ramirez followed with an RBI single that could have scored two runs if not for the bizarre play.

"It was a weird play," Bogaerts said. "I'm right in front of the play. I thought I was out. I didn't hear a 'safe,' I didn't hear an 'out.' I just thought I was out. I was just making sure I stayed on the base so I don't get called for an automatic 'double play,' you know, that rule where you can't go over the bag. That was my main focus, trying to stay on, and I thought I was out." More >
Hunter and the hunted: With two outs, runners on second and third and the Braves leading by three runs in the seventh, left-hander Hunter Cervenka, a 27th-round pick of the Red Sox in the 2008 Draft who made his Major League debut on April 12, came in to face Ortiz for the first time in his career. On the sixth pitch, with a 3-2 count, Cervenka got Ortiz to ground out, ending the threat.

"Last time we rattled off four in a row, we won a game like this. Winning is contagious, just like anything else. And hopefully we can rattle off -- I'm not talking about sweeping the Cubs or anything, but maybe we can win two out of three there." -- Gonzalez, on a win like this possibly being a catalyst for his team
In the top of the sixth, Smith thought he had stolen second base for the Braves. But manager John Farrell challenged the call, and it was overturned after a review that took 2 minutes and 16 seconds. Smith did not maintain contact with the bag throughout his slide, and shortstop Bogaerts tagged him out.

In the top of the eighth, Smith was involved in another challenge play. This time, he was called out trying to steal third. Gonzalez challenged, but the call stood after a review of 2 minutes and 42 seconds.

If the Red Sox are going to get to where they want to go this season, they need to gain some swagger at home. After splitting with the Braves the past two nights, Boston is 0-2-2 in home series this season and 5-7 overall at Fenway.
Despite their record, the Braves went 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the game and are now batting .303 (53-for-175) with runners in scoring position this season. In their past 13 games, they are hitting .339 in such circumstances, going 39-for-115.
Braves: Atlanta opens a three-game set at Wrigley Field on Friday at 2:20 p.m. ET, the first of six meetings between the Braves and Cubs this season. Aaron Blair gets the start after a busy week that saw the right-hander make his Major League debut on Sunday before being named the International League's Pitcher of the Week for April 18-24 on Monday. On April 19 he earned his third Minors win of the season, going seven scoreless and hitless innings while striking out 10 for Triple-A Gwinnett.
Red Sox: Boston hosts the Yankees for their first rivalry showdown of the season on Friday night at Fenway Park. Lefty Henry Owens makes his second start since replacing the injured Joe Kelly in the rotation. The Yankees counter with Masahiro Tanaka. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to and covered the Braves on Thursday.