ATLANTA (AP) — Brandon Beachy learned an important lesson in his first career shutout: The ninth inning is a blast.
Beachy improved his major league-best ERA with a five-hitter and the Atlanta Braves beat the Miami Marlins 7-0 Thursday night.
The shutout came in the first career complete game for Beachy (5-1), who hadn’t lasted longer than 7 1-3 innings.
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The right-hander said he went straight to Braves closer Craig Kimbrel after the game.
“I told Craig `I’m jealous. You get to do this all the time,'” Beachy said. “I got pumped up there in the last inning. That’s a lot of fun.”
Beachy had two strikeouts in the ninth to cap Atlanta’s first shutout of the season. He has won five straight decisions since losing his first start. He had no walks and six strikeouts and lowered his ERA from 1.60 to 1.33.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell allowed Beachy to remain in the game after throwing 110 pitches through eight innings.
“Roger and I were hanging on every pitch,” Gonzalez said. “You want the kid to be successful. You want him to have the complete game. You want him to have the shutout, but you want to keep him healthy.”
Beachy finished with 122 pitches.
“The pitch count thing is irrelevant in my opinion,” said Braves catcher Brian McCann. “It’s how many stressful pitches you throw, and he didn’t throw very many.”
Freddie Freeman homered and Chipper Jones, Michael Bourn, Martin Prado and Tyler Pastornicky each had two hits as the Braves outhit the Marlins 12-5 and split the two-game series.
The Braves improved to 18-5 with Jones in the starting lineup. They are 6-10 in games he did not start.
Ricky Nolasco (4-2) gave up four runs on seven hits in four innings as he was denied his bid for sole possession of the Marlins’ record for career wins. Nolasco, who is tied with Dontrelle Willis at 68 wins, has lasted less than five innings in two straight losses.
“He threw better than what he showed,” said Miami manager Ozzie Guillen, who removed Nolasco for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning.
“That’s what I hate about the National League; you have to take the pitcher out for offense,” Guillen said.
Nolasco said he “couldn’t catch a break” even though he said he “made a lot of good pitches,” even on Freeman’s homer.
“Balls were finding holes and stuff,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do there. That’s baseball.”
Bourn led off the first with a single and scored on Prado’s triple just beyond the reach of centerfielder Emilio Bonifacio.
The Braves added two runs with two outs in the third. Freeman launched a high homer, his seventh, to right field. Dan Uggla walked and scored on Brian McCann’s double past a diving Logan Morrison in left field. The ball skipped past Morrison and bounced to the wall, allowing Uggla to score easily.
Jason Heyward was caught stealing after he was hit by a pitch to open the fourth. The Braves still had a productive inning as Pastornicky singled, moved to second on Beachy’s sacrifice and scored on Bourn’s single up the middle for a 4-0 lead.
With dark clouds hovering and lightning flashing over Turner Field, the Marlins stranded runners on second and third in the fifth. After singles by Gaby Sanchez and pinch-hitter Austin Kearns, Jose Reyes lined out to right field to end the inning.
The Braves added three runs in the fifth off Chad Gaudin, who walked freeman and Uggla to start the inning. Jones, Heyward and Beachy had run-scoring singles.
The Marlins had another scoring opportunity when Giancarlo Stanton led off the seventh with a double. Stanton was left standing on second as Beachy struck out Brett Hayes to end the inning.
NOTES: Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, watched the game from a seat near the Braves dugout. … Beachy’s previous longest start was 7 1-3 innings in two games, most recently on April 20 at Arizona. … Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he may use Jones and McCann as the designated hitters in the team’s first interleague series at Tampa Bay, beginning Friday night. Gonzalez said it will be a good way to give two of his top hitters a break while keeping their bats in the lineup. … Morrison is the possible DH for the Marlins’ three-game series at Cleveland. Manager Ozzie Guillen said Kearns may be the DH if the Marlins face a left-hander. … RHP Tommy Hanson will start for Atlanta against Tampa Bay’s James Shields on Friday night. Marlins RHP Carlos Zambrano will face Indians RHP Justin Masterson.