ATLANTA — Josh Donaldson capped his strong first-half finish by hitting a two-run homer and Charlie Culberson’s defensive play helped the Atlanta Braves escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to beat the Miami Marlins 4-3 on Sunday.
The Braves are 10-2 against the Marlins this season and 24-7 the past two seasons.
Atlanta led 4-0 before Garrett Cooper hit a three-run homer off Chad Sobotka in the eighth. Miami then loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth.
Miami’s Jorge Alfaro led off the ninth with an infield hit off Braves closer Luke Jackson. Alfaro was called out at first base before the ruling was overturned after a review. Harold Ramirez singled up the middle, moving Alfaro to second. Yadiel Rivera popped up a bunt that landed behind the mound for an infield single, loading the bases.
Neil Walker hit a fly ball to left field that was caught by Culberson, a late-inning defensive replacement who threw out Alfaro at the plate. The out call at the plate was upheld after a review.
Jackson walked Curtis Granderson, again loading the bases, before ending the game on Miguel Rojas’ fly ball to centre field. Jackson earned his 14th save.
Freddie Freeman’s bloop single off Trevor Richards in the third drove in Ronald Acuna Jr. for a 1-0 lead. Donaldson then hit a high fastball over the right-centre field wall for his 200th career homer, his 18th this season.
Donaldson has hit 10 homers since June 11. He helped the Braves hit a franchise-record 143 homers before the All-Star break.
Donaldson is one of five Atlanta players with more than 15 homers. Ozzie Albies finished the first half with 14 homers, one shy of making the Braves the first team in major league history to have six players hit 15 homers before the All-Star break.
Dallas Keuchel (2-2) allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings in his fourth start since signing with Atlanta on June 7. He was sharp from the first inning, when his sinker generated three groundball outs. The left-hander allowed only five hits and one walk.
Keuchel was lifted after walking pinch-hitter Brian Anderson and giving up a single to Rojas with one out in the eighth. Sobotka struck out Cesar Puello before giving up Cooper’s three-run homer.
Richards (3-10) allowed four runs and six hits and five walks, matching his season high, in five innings. He has logged five or more innings in a career-best 11 consecutive starts.
Nick Markakis had three hits, including a run-scoring single in the fifth. Acuna had a career-high three walks.
The Braves are 10-2 in decisive games of three-game series this season, including five straight wins, and 7-0 in those decisive games at home.
The start of the game was delayed 26 minutes by rain.
Marlins: Anderson (elbow contusion) may be cleared for a return to the lineup following the All-Star break after being limited to pinch-hitting in the three-game series. He has missed five straight starts. … Cooper started after leaving Saturday night’s game with cramping in his right leg.
Braves: SS Dansby Swanson (sore left quadriceps) started, as expected, after missing the first two games of the series.
Marlins: Manager Don Mattingly has not announced his rotation for a three-game home series against the New York Mets following the All-Star break, beginning on Friday.
Braves: Keuchel, RHP Julio Teheran (5-6, 3.75) and RHP Mike Soroka (9-1, 2.42) will be Atlanta’s starters for their three-game series at San Diego, beginning on Friday.