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Braves 2, Marlins 1

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MIAMI (AP)

Young right-hander Randall Delgado and the Atlanta Braves bullpen made their manager look smart.

Delgado contributed an RBI batting in the No. 8 spot, and after manager Fredi Gonzalez gave him a quick hook in the seventh inning, three relievers combined to complete a two-hitter and help the Braves beat the Miami Marlins 2-1.

''It all worked out, so the second guessing is for tomorrow,'' Gonzalez said.

Delgado led 2-1 and had thrown only 80 pitches when he departed after allowing his only walk with one out in the seventh. Gonzalez liked the matchups he could get out of the bullpen, and he didn't want his starter facing the heart of the Marlins' order for a fourth time.

The strategy worked: Braves relievers retired all eight batters they faced. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his NL-leading 17th save in 18 chances.

Gonzalez batted his pitcher eighth for the second night in a row, and that strategy paid off, too. With two out and runners on the corners in the fourth inning, Delgado singled on a hit and run for his first RBI of the year, making the score 2-0.

''I thought it was going to come back and bite us there,'' Gonzalez said. ''We started the runner, put the ball in play and got lucky with a hit through the hole.''

Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson drove in two runs from eighth spot Tuesday.

Delgado (4-5) had a career-high seven strikeouts and won for only the second time in his past nine starts.

''I felt very great tonight,'' Delgado said.

''Our pitching was phenomenal,'' Gonzalez said. ''We had good solid defense, nothing flashy, made all the routine plays and just got enough runs. Games like these where the pitchers give you a good effort and keep the opposition from putting a big number up - we've won four or five like this.''

In the first two games of the series, the Braves have allowed one run and seven hits. They've won five of their past six games, and their 19-14 road record is the best in the NL.

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman left the game with a bruised left index finger. He singled home Atlanta's first run in the fourth inning, then was hurt trying to break up a double play when he was hit at close range by Hanley Ramirez's relay throw.

Freeman was called out for interference and departed. His finger was put in a splint, and X-rays are planned Thursday.

''It doesn't feel good right now,'' he said. ''My hand was in the wrong place at the wrong time.''

Brian McCann had three of the Braves' six hits and scored a run.

''I worked the count a little bit,'' McCann said. ''When I got my pitch, I didn't miss.''

Josh Johnson (3-4) lost for the first time in his past four decisions even though he went a season-high 7 2-3 innings and allowed two runs.

''The good thing out of all this is the way J.J. threw the ball,'' Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. ''That's a step forward. That's the first time I've seen him throw the ball like that. His velocity and command were a lot better.''

Delgado retired the first 12 batters before Giancarlo Stanton doubled to lead off the fifth. He scored the Marlins' first run of the series on a two-out single by Bryan Petersen - only his second RBI this season.

That was the Marlins' final hit. Jose Reyes went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, ending the longest active hitting streak in the majors at 15 games.

''Their pitcher was better than we were,'' Guillen said. ''Sometimes you've got to tip your hat.''

NOTES: Marlins OF Austin Kearns (hamstring) was hit on the elbow in a game Wednesday during a rehabilitation assignment, which may delay his return from the disabled list. ... The Braves have won nine of their past 11 games in Miami. ... Kimbrel has 34 strikeouts in 21 innings. ... Miami's Logan Morrison is batting .368 in day games and .142 at night. ... The Marlins' bullpen has allowed only five home runs, fewest in the majors.

Tagged: Braves, Marlins, Tim Hudson

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