Braves rally to lead, but Marlins rally to win

AP photo by Lynne Sladky / Atlanta Braves starter Bryce Elder pitches against the host Miami Marlins on Friday night.

MIAMI — The Atlanta Braves have already wrapped up their sixth straight division title, leaving the rest of the National League East waiting until next year for another chance to end that reign.

With a little more than two weeks remaining in the regular season, though, the fight for wild-card spots in the playoffs — and perhaps another shot at the Braves — will go on, and the Miami Marlins aren't counting themselves out.

Luis Arraez homered twice and Jacob Stallings hit two doubles, the second a go-ahead line drive with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, as the Marlins beat the Braves 9-6 on Friday night.

In their first game since winning the division title Wednesday with a victory against the second-place Philadelphia Phillies, the Braves lost star slugger and right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. after 7 1/2 innings because of tightness in his right calf. 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 are third in the East and began Friday a half-game out of the third and final 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 multihomer game in the majors. 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, 25, said he initially felt the discomfort while chasing Chisholm's hit in the seventh. He sustained a season-ending knee injury on the same field two year ago, forcing him to miss Atlanta's run to the 2021 World Series championship.

As for any unease about another possible health setback occurring on the same field, Acuña said: "Every game gives me anxiety because I try to be one of those players that plays every single day."

A.J. Puk (6-5) struck out three batters 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 this year.

"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 allowed nine hits and struck out six batters in five innings, settling down after a difficult first two innings.

The Marlins struck quickly with a three-run first. Arraez hit a leadoff homer, while 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 an RBI 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 homer 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 batters.

Atlanta's Matt Olson and Miami's Jorge Soler, their clubs' nominees for the 2023 Roberto Clemente Award, were allowed to wear jersey No. 21 in the tribute throughout the major leagues honoring the late Pittsburgh Pirates star and National Baseball Hall of Famer on Friday.

The three-game series continues Saturday with Atlanta starting left-hander Jared Schuster (4-3, 5.26 ERA) on the mound and the Marlins giving the ball to right-hander Bryan Hoeing (2-2, 4.04).