Fish Flounder in 10th

Marlins tie it late, Braves win in extras

One swing by Brian McCann kept the Atlanta Braves from being swept and let them keep talking about a possible postseason appearance.

McCann’s three-run homer in the 10th inning gave the Braves a 6-3 victory over the Marlins on Thursday night.

“We’re still playing good baseball,” said McCann, who also had two doubles. “It’s a sign of a good team when you lose a couple in a row and people are a little antsy.”

Nate McLouth led off the Braves’ 10th against Luis Ayala (1-3) with a single. After a sacrifice and an intentional walk to Chipper Jones, McCann hit a 2-2 pitch over the right-center field wall.

“He’s a power hitter and you can’t make mistakes in that situation,” Ayala said.

Cody Ross hit his 15th home run in the eighth to bring the Marlins within 3-2. After Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked with runners on second and third, Florida tied it on Jorge Cantu’s infield single.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak.

“We had some chances to get that sweep,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We battled back, but we just couldn’t get that bloop single that we needed.”

Peter Moylan (3-2) worked the ninth for Atlanta and Rafael Soriano recorded his 15th save in 17 chances as Atlanta moved one game behind Florida for second place in the NL East.

“It was a great comeback,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “You don’t like to blow the lead, but we came back and won it. So that’s OK.”

Even having lost the first two games of the series, the Braves are 18-10 since they were a season-worst six games under .500 on June 27. The recent surge has put them back in the mix of teams fighting for the NL wild card.

Casey Kotchman’s double in the second inning scored McCann and Yunel Escobar and gave Atlanta a 2-0 lead. McLouth’s RBI single in the seventh put the Braves ahead 3-1.

It was another start with little support for Atlanta’s Javier Vazquez.

Vazquez struck out eight and allowed three runs in 7 1-3 innings for a no-decision that ended his three-game winning streak.

Rick VandenHurk had a career-high nine strikeouts and gave up two runs in six innings for Florida.

“We took one away from them a couple nights ago and that was nice,” Ross said. “Tonight, to climb back was nice, but we wanted to come away with the victory there.”

Unlike the series opener Tuesday, when pinch-hitter Ross Gload hit a two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give Florida a 4-3 win, Atlanta held off the rally.

“We won an important game,” Vazquez said. “Those first two losses weren’t good. It was important to win that game to keep us right there in contention.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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