McCoy: Late-inning rally, bullpen get it done for Braves in division series opener

The Atlanta Braves didn’t score 29 runs, as they did against the Miami Marlins in a game during the regular season.

And it didn’t look good for the Braves in the seventh when they trailed by a run ... especially considering that the Marlins were 29-0 this season when leading after six innings.

The Braves, though, unsheathed their heavy weaponry in the seventh inning to score six runs, highlighted by a three-run, tie-breaking home run by Travis d’Arnaud and a two-run rip by Dansby Swanson.

It ended 9-5 in Houston’s Minute Maid Park, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

Atlanta’s starter was Max Fried, one of the many pitchers the Cincinnati Reds couldn’t hit during their 22 straight scoreless innings in the Wild Card Series.

And in the first inning he threw 11 pitches, all strikes, and looked invincible again.

But he was gone after four innings, giving up four runs and six hits, and his team trailing, 4-3.

The Braves never blinked, knowing their bullpen is bullish. And that’s what happened. The bullpen double padlocked the batter’s box, awaiting something big to happen from the offense.

It happened in the seventh when the Braves scored six runs, the decider a three-run home run by catcher d’Arnaud that turned a 4-4 tie into a 7-4 lead. The home run came againsst arguably Miami’s best relief pitcher, Yimi Garcia.

To add emphasis, when Miami brought in relief pitcher James Hoyt and Swanson hit his first pitch beyond the wall, a two-run home run and a 9-4 Atlanta lead.

Atlanta’s bullpen participants, Darren O’Day, Tyler Matzek (one inning, three strikeouts), Will Smith (a perfect inning), Chris Martin (gave up a run in the eighth, but stranded two) and Mark Melancon finished it with a perfect ninth and two punchouts.

Ronald Acuna Jr. led the bottom of the first by ripping the second pitch of the game thrown by Miami’s Sandy Alcantara.

It was an incredible home run — 428 feet into the upper deck in right field, the opposite field. And it was the fifth leadoff-the-first home run by Acuna.

The lead lasted only until the Marlins came to bat in the top of the second. Miguel Rojas led the inning by hitting one onto the train tracks above the left field viaduct to tie it, 1-1.

It was only the third home run given up this season by Fried, all three by the Marlins.

The Marlins tore into Fried for three runs in the third. After a pair of no-out singles by No. 9 hitter Magneuris Sierra and Jon Berti, Garrett Cooper doubled home a run two runs and Brian Anderson singled home another. That gave the Marlins a 4-1 lead.

Then controversy. The Marlins and Acuna have a history. The Marlins like to use Acuna for target practice. After launching his home run in the first, Acuna stood and admired it.

When Acuna came to bat with one out in the third, Alcantara’s first pitch, a 97 mph fastball, was buried in Acuna’s left hip. Heated words were aimed each way the both benches were warned.

With two outs, Marcell Ozuna lined one to the wall in left and Acuna never stopped from first. He scored with a head-first slide. d’Arnaud followed with a double, pulling the Braves to within 4-3.

Acuna was afforded the chance to extract about five pounds of flesh in the fourth, but failed.

After Alcantara struck out the first two Braves, Nick Markakis and Austin Riley singled, bringing up Acuna. Alcantara struck him out on four pitches.

Alcantara pitched into the seventh inning, but gave up back-to-back singles to Riley and Acuna, putting runners on first and second with no outs.

That ended Alcantara’s work day, replaced by Garcia. After Freddie Freeman grounded into a force play, Ozuna singled to left to tie it, 4-4.

Then came The Big Blow. Clean-up hitter d’Arnaud cleaned up everything, a long three-run home run to center field to give the Braves a 7-4 advantage. And Swanson followed with his two-run homer.

The Braves bullpen took care of the rest.

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