MIAMI (AP) — Luis Arraez homered twice and Jacob Stallings had two doubles, the second a go-ahead line drive with the bases loaded in the seventh, and the Miami Marlins beat the NL East champion Atlanta Braves 9-6 on Friday night.
In their first game since winning the division title Wednesday, the Braves lost star slugger Ronald Acuña Jr. after 7 1/2 innings because of right calf tightness. Acuña went to his position after grounding into a double play to end the top of the eighth but left before a pitch was thrown in the bottom half.
“I feel good, it just felt like a cramp,” Acuña said through a translator. “Let’s see how I come in (Saturday) and I’m feeling and if I can play.”
Jake Burger and Garrett Hampson each had two hits for the Marlins, who began Friday a half-game from the third NL wild-card spot.
“Coming back against a team like that just shows you the growth of our team and the belief they have in there,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “They really believe they can do this. Whatever happens, I’m super proud of the fight that they have.”
Down 6-4, the Marlins rallied with a five-run seventh against relievers Pierce Johnson and Brad Hand (4-2). Arraez’s solo shot off Johnson cut it to 6-5 for his first career multi-homer game. Jazz Chisholm Jr. hit a two-out single against Hand and scored from first on Hampson’s tying single to deep center. After Hand walked pinch-hitter Yuli Gurriel and hit Xavier Edwards, Stallings drove in three runs with a shot to the corner in left.
“I just kind of had a feeling I was going to get it done,” Stallings said. “It’s just really cool to come through for the guys. Obviously a huge game for us.”
Acuña said he initially felt the discomfort while chasing Chisholm’s hit in the seventh. The 25-year-old Acuña sustained a season-ending knee injury on the same field two seasons ago and missed the Braves’ 2021 World Series championship run.
“Every game gives me anxiety because I try to be one of those players that plays every single day,” Acuña said of any unease about another possible health setback occurring on the same field.
A.J. Puk (6-5) struck out three in 1 1/3 innings of relief for the win. Andrew Nardi pitched a scoreless eighth and Tanner Scott worked a perfect ninth for his ninth save.
“It seems like someone is coming through every day,” Schumaker said. “But Arraez set the tone at the top. He’s had an incredible year.”
The Braves erased an early four-run deficit and went ahead 6-4 on Ozzie Albies’ two-run single off reliever David Robertson in the sixth.
Albies completed a 10-pitch at-bat with a soft line drive up the middle that scored lead runner Orlando Arcia. Acuña sprinted home from first as he ran on the pitch and beat Chisholm’s throw to the plate.
Braves starter Bryce Elder settled down after a difficult first two frames and completed five innings of four-run ball. Elder gave up nine hits and struck out six.
The Marlins struck quickly with a three-run first. Arraez hit a leadoff homer, Bryan De La Cruz had a run-scoring single and scored on Jesús Sánchez’s RBI triple. Burger’s double preceded De La Cruz’s hit for a team cycle in the inning.
Burger made it 4-0 with a run-scoring single in the second.
“I just came out flat, wasn’t very sharp and wasn’t executing pitches,” Elder said. “I was kind of pleased with the last couple of innings but the first was just kind of sloppy and paid for it.”
Atlanta cut the deficit on Michael Harris II’s leadoff shot and Austin Riley’s RBI single off Miami starter Johnny Cueto in the third.
Sacrifice flies from Acuña in the fourth and Eddie Rosario in the fifth tied it at 4.
Cueto was lifted after four innings. The veteran right-hander gave up three runs and seven hits and struck out two.
Atlanta’s Matt Olson and Miami’s Jorge Soler, the clubs’ respective nominees for the 2023 Roberto Clemente Award, were allowed to wear jersey No. 21 in the tribute throughout the major leagues honoring the late Hall of Famer on Friday.
Braves: RHP Jesse Chavez (left shin microfracture) struck out the side in a perfect inning during his second rehab outing with Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday.
Marlins: De La Cruz left after the third because of right ankle discomfort. … Soler (right oblique strain) hit off the machine for the second consecutive day Friday. … RHP Sandy Alcantara (right forearm flexor strain) continues to play catch and is being evaluated daily.
LHP Jared Schuster (4-3, 5.26) will start the second game of the series for the Braves on Saturday, while the Marlins will go with RHP Bryan Hoeing (2-2, 4.04).
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.