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Braves hook into Fish again, complete sweep; Smoltz's jersey to be retired tonight; Atlanta top pick Sims signs

Jason Heyward watches his second HR of the night clear the center field wall against Miami.

Jason Heyward watches his second HR of the night clear the center field wall against Miami.

NOTEBOOK: Braves to retire Smoltz’s No. 29 tonight; X-rays negative on slugger Freeman, will return soon; Atlanta's No. 1 pick signs

ATLANTA — John Smoltz will soon take his place beside Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine as Braves pitchers from the 1995 World Series championship team to have their numbers retired.

Smoltz will have his No. 29 retired before tonight’s interleague game against Toronto.

It will be the ninth Braves uniform number to be retired, including the fourth in four years, following former manager Bobby Cox (No. 6) last year, Glavine (47) in 2010 and Maddux (31) in 2009.

Smoltz is the only pitcher in MLB history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves. He has the most strikeouts in postseason history with 199. The eight-time NL All-Star won the NL Cy Young Award in 1996, when he won 24 games.

He is now a broadcaster for the MLB Network and TBS.

FREEMAN SHOULD BE BACK SOON: Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is expected to rejoin the lineup soon after X-rays of his injured left index finger were negative. Freeman underwent the tests Thursday and complained of soreness but might be out for only a game or two, manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Freeman was hurt trying to break up a double play Wednesday against the Marlins and left the game. Afterward his finger was in a splint.

He’ll be examined when the Braves return to Atlanta to begin a homestand today. Freeman is batting .253 with eight homers and 36 RBI.

SIMS SIGNS: Atlanta Braves first-round draft pick Lucas Sims has signed a contract and is expected to join their Gulf Coast League affiliate Tuesday.

Sims, a right-hander from Brookwood High School in Snellville, Ga., led his team to the state championship game this year and was taken with the 21st overall pick this week.

He had committed to pitch at Clemson, but signed Thursday with the Braves and received a signing bonus of $1.65 million.

MIAMI — Jason Heyward’s majestic ninth-inning drive sailed into the hard-to-reach seats in center field at Marlins Park. And that wasn’t even his hardest-hit ball Thursday night.

Heyward ranked his seventh-inning homer to center No. 1, but both counted the same, and the two solo shots helped the Atlanta Braves beat the Miami Marlins 8-2 to complete a three-game series sweep.

Martin Prado put Atlanta ahead to stay with a two-run homer, and Michael Bourn added a three-run homer in the ninth.

“Our bats came alive,” Heyward said.

They were alive the whole series, with Atlanta outscoring Miami 21-3. The Marlins, who began the week in a virtual tie for first place in the NL East, were swept in their new ballpark for the first time.

Many well-struck fly balls have been caught in the park’s vast center field this season, but Heyward homered onto the grass beyond the 418-foot sign with two out in the seventh.

“It wasn’t a fly ball,” he said. “I had to get it perfect. It was more of a line drive.”

With the Braves still unbeaten in the new ballpark, Heyward said he likes it just fine. So does Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.

“It’s a fair ballpark,” Gonzalez said. “You’ve got to hit it to get it out. It’s a lot better than playing some of the other places where if you bump it forward in the air, you’re holding your breath.”

Atlanta’s four homers were a season high. Giancarlo Stanton hit his 14th homer and Jose Reyes hit his first for the Marlins, but they went 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.

Mike Minor (3-4) needed 103 pitches to get through five innings but allowed only one run, and four relievers completed a nine-hitter. Braves pitchers allowed just 16 hits in the series.

“They came in and whipped our butts in three games,” Stanton said. “It’s not like we’re going downhill from here. A little slip-up. Ain’t no problem.”

The Braves, who have won six of their past seven games, earned their third road series sweep. Their 20-14 record in away games is the best in the NL.

Mark Buehrle (5-6), who had won his three previous career starts against Atlanta, allowed two runs and three hits in six innings. He took a one-hitter and a 1-0 lead into the sixth, but Bourn singled with two out and Prado hit a 2-2 pitch just inside the left-field foul pole for his fourth homer.

Prado added an RBI single in the eighth.

Flashy glove work helped the Braves preserve a two-run lead in the seventh after a leadoff walk. Heyward made a sliding catch in right field to rob Omar Infante of a hit, and Andrelton Simmons followed with a diving backhand stop to start a 6-4-3 double play.

“For me the whole game was the seventh inning,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a different game if we don’t turn the double play.”

Stanton’s homer was originally ruled a double when the ball hit just inside the right-field foul pole and bounced back onto the field, but the call was reversed following a replay review.

The game was scoreless when Reyes homered leading off the fifth inning. The ball landed on top of the wall and bounced into the Marlins’ bullpen.

That was the only run allowed by Minor. He walked five, allowed four hits and stranded seven to win for the first time in his past eight starts.

“He didn’t buckle,” Gonzalez said. “There was progress there. A couple of innings they could have put up some big numbers against him.”

Minor walked two in the first inning and loaded the bases with two out, but Logan Morrison struck out. Morrison went 0 for 4 and is batting .133 with runners in scoring position.

“We’re in a little slump right now,” Buehrle said. “That’s what happens when you face good teams and good pitching.”

NOTES: Marlins OF Austin Kearns said his latest injury isn’t serious, and he’ll likely be activated this weekend. Kearns was already on the disabled list with a sore right hamstring when he was hit on the left elbow in a game Wednesday during a rehabilitation assignment. … Bourn’s six homers are a career high. … Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco, scheduled to face the Rays on Friday, is 2-3 with an 8.51 ERA in five starts against them. … The Braves begin a nine-game homestand Friday. They’ve played 23 home games, fewest in the NL.

Comments

coachjohnson42 2 years, 5 months ago

SAY HEY- HAYWARD!!! Need to win two more to balance that 8 game freefall.....Giancarlo Stanton is looking great too!!!

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VSU 2 years, 5 months ago

It's Heyward, not Hayward! It's about time he did something. Finally Minor came around also. I guess you got tired of waiting for them to lose so you could yell out meltdown. There's nothing to balance out, you win some, you lose some. you get on hot streaks, you get on cold streaks. Look at the Phillies. The Braves are a good team, you just can't get it in your head. This series was a team effort. The starting pitching, relief pitching. Great defensive plays by Heyward, Simmons, Freeman. Uggla had a good series, Heyward had a good series. They are a good team, just not consistant enough.

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coachjohnson42 2 years, 5 months ago

they are ok....still not championship quality

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VSU 2 years, 5 months ago

Most teams in the league are not championship quality, just like your ASU Rams are not championship quality.

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