The Fish and the Braves kicked off a weekend series at Turner Field Friday night with ace Josh Johnson on the hill against Kris Medlen. And since for some unknown reason Major League Baseball associates patriotism with severely unattractive millinery, both teams donned white hats with blue trim in celebration of the 4th of July weekend.
With everyone looking sufficiently ridiculous, things got off to an odd start in the first. (Yes, FishStripes chooses to blame the hats). Chris Coghlan singled to lead off the game, but was called out for failing to retouch second base when Gaby Sanchez flied out to right. The out was unfortunate, since Hanley homered in the next at-bat, and the Marlins had to settle for a solo shot.
JJ stranded runners at third base in the first, third and fourth innings, but couldn't do the same in the bottom of the fifth. Gregor Blanco tripled and tied up the score on a Martin Prado single, which came after strike three was called a ball. Melky Cabrera followed with a single to put runners on first and second, but JJ struck out Chipper Jones to end the inning.
Josh would last through sixth innings, allowing only one run on six hits while striking out eight. Medlen lasted 6 1/3, and the Marlins managed six hits off of him, but several untimely double plays kept them from scoring after Hanley's solo shot in the first.
The Marlins bullpen took over in the seventh, and kept their custom of being incapable of holding the score. Brian Sanches walked Gregor Blanco with one out, and Blanco scored on a single by Martin Prado to put the Braves up 2-1.
In the top of the ninth, Billy Wagner earned a blown save on his second pitch of the inning, which Gaby Sanchez deposited into the outfield seats to tie the game at two runs apiece.
After K-lay Hensley, fresh off the DL, handled scoreless ninth and tenth innings, Wes Helms led off the 11th inning with a single off of Jonny Venters. Wes advanced to third on Chris Coghlan's bunt and a throwing error by Troy Glaus, and Hanley was intentionally walked to load the bases. With the squeeze on, Brian Barden didn't get the bat on the ball and Wes Helms got caught in a rundown. Thankfully, Venters--quite literally--dropped the ball, and Uncle Wes was able to score to give the Marlins the lead.
Leo Nunez came in to close down the Braves in the bottom of the 11th, but instead of closing them down, he walked Brian McCann on four pitches, and gave up a double to Troy Glaus. With runners on second and third and nobody out, Omar Infante singled to drive in both runs and provide the second blown save of the game, and the walk-off win for the Braves.
We blame the hats.