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Bullpen bails out Braves again

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Julio Teheran said it's time for him to pay his debt after his Atlanta Braves beat the Miami Marlins 4-3 on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.

Teheran (12-7) got the win, but he was bailed out by reliever Luis Ayala, who got a big out to end the seventh inning.

"I owe him dinner," Teheran said of Ayala.

The stellar relief pitching is nothing for new for the Braves this season or this series. Counting Monday's win, Braves relievers have worked five scoreless innings in this series.

After Teheran went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, the Braves used four relievers to keep the Marlins from scoring again.

Closer Craig Kimbrel picked up his major-league-leading 46th save, including a club-record 36 in a row.

But the game might have been won in the seventh when the Marlins loaded the bases with two outs. That's when Ayala came on to strike out Giancarlo Stanton on three pitches. On the last pitch, Stanton swung and missed at an 89 mph sinker that dived down and in to the Marlins' slugger.

"I wasn't trying to strike him out," Ayala said. "I just wanted to attack him with my best pitch, which is my sinker."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called it the biggest out of the game.

"That pitch had some depth to it," Gonzalez said. "Luis gave us a chance to win."

The loss went to Marlins starter Tom Koehler (3-10), who allowed four runs in five innings.

"It seemed like it was one or two pitches away from the game being different," Koehler said. "It's a pitch here and there, maybe a fastball you leave up a little bit.

"They were able to hit some balls in the gap with guys on. Three or four hits in a row got them going. It's just kind of snowballing, and we're not really minimizing the damage."

Teheran, meanwhile, said he felt "weird" early because he had not pitched since Aug. 30.

"I felt like I hadn't pitched in a month," Teheran said. "I didn't feel normal."

The Braves opened the scoring in the first inning with three straight two-out hits. Freddie Freeman singled, and Evan Gattis and Brian McCann followed with run-scoring doubles to left center.

Miami came right back with three runs in the bottom of the first. After Ed Lucas singled and Christian Yelich walked, Giancarlo Stanton -- who had missed the previous two games with a sprained right ankle -- crushed a line-drive double just inside the line in left field, scoring Lucas.

Logan Morrison tied the score with a single, and Donovan Solano's groundout gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead.

The Braves scored twice to regain the lead in the third. Justin Upton, Freeman and Gattis started the inning with three straight singles, the last of which produced an RBI.

After McCann grounded out, Chris Johnson's run-scoring single gave the Braves a 4-3 lead.

For Gattis, it was his third straight game with two RBI.

"He's getting opportunities with runners on base," Gonzalez said, "and he's not missing."

A bright spot for the Marlins was their bullpen, which pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit. The bullpen has a 1.06 ERA in its past five games against the Braves, totaling 17 innings.

Still, the Marlins have lost four in a row.

"We're in a funk," manager Mike Redmond said. "Pitching-wise, (our starters are) struggling to get through four or five innings.

"We've got to do a better job of eliminating the runs early and give ourselves a chance to win."

NOTES: Upton left the game with a bruised right knee and is listed as day to day. ... The Braves activated OF Reed Johnson before the game. He had been out since July 29 with a foot injury. ... The Marlins will open the 2014 season with a home game on March 31 against the Colorado Rockies. ... The Braves will open their 2014 season with a trip to play the Milwaukee Brewers on March 31. ... Braves RHP Jordan Walden threw off a mound for the first time since he suffered a groin injury two weeks ago. He is expected to need one more such session before returning to the Atlanta bullpen. ... Marlins C Jeff Mathis, who left Monday's game with a right thumb contusion, was not in the starting lineup. He was replaced by Rob Brantly. ... The third game of the four-game series is set for Wednesday night. RHP Jose Fernandez (11-6, 2.23 ERA) will face LHP Mike Minor (13-6, 3.06). It will be Fernandez's final appearance of the year, as he will have reached an innings cap the Marlins set.
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