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McCann's walk-off caps Braves comeback over Fish

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Brian McCann stood at second base, convinced he had just hit a game-winning homer.

His teammates gathered along the first-base line, ready to celebrate.

After 86 seconds, umpire crew chief Tim McClelland popped out of the Florida dugout, looked toward McCann and twirled his right index finger -- the universal signal for a home run.

Upon further review, the Braves win.

More on Marlins at Braves

McCann capped a stunning comeback with a replay-assisted homer that gave Atlanta a 7-6 victory over the Marlins on Sunday -- the first time a game ended on a call using video.

Without it, McCann might have only gotten credit for a double and the game would have continued on. Instead, he was jumping into the arms of his teammates after the umps took a second look, taking advantage of a limited replay rule that went into effect two years earlier almost to the day -- Aug. 28, 2008 -- to make sure they got these sort of calls right.

"I heard it hit the back tin [wall], so I knew that wasn't the sound of the pads," McCann said. "I knew it was a homer. I was telling Tim McClelland, 'I promise you it's a homer, I heard it hit the back."'

Pinch-hitter Matt Diaz tied the game with a two-run homer off Leo Nunez (4-3) after Brooks Conrad led off the ninth with a walk. Nunez retired the next two hitters, then McCann drove a 1-2 pitch toward the wall in right.

The ball bounced back onto the field, and the umpires initially ruled it was still in play. McCann stopped at second and began arguing that he should have more than a double.

The umpires conferred, then headed toward the tunnel alongside the Florida dugout to look at a replay that clearly showed the ball struck the top of the wall -- right over McCann's name on an auxiliary scoreboard -- and went over. It ricocheted back onto the field off the wall in front of the seats.

"Yep, that was a home run," said Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez, whose team took a devastating loss in its long-shot bid to get back in the playoff race. "It was a home run all the way."

When McClelland signaled homer, McCann finished his triumphant jog around the bases, slamming down his helmet before he touched home and disappeared into a mob surrounding the plate.

"It was the worst celebration of all time," McCann quipped. "I got lost in the moment."

The NL East-leading Braves overcame a 6-1 deficit, scoring three runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth for a victory they will surely remember if they hold on for their first division title since 2005. They maintained a two-game lead on Philadelphia, which completed a sweep at San Diego with a 5-0 victory Sunday.

"There's not a better feeling," McCann said. "It makes it better being in a playoff race."

Takashi Saito (2-3) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win, while Nunez's eighth blown save in 37 chances ruined a strong outing by Florida starter Josh Johnson, who pitched three-hit ball over six innings and allowed only an unearned run.

The Braves won for the 23rd time in their final at-bat, which leads the majors. It wasn't even their biggest comeback of the season -- a seven-run ninth gave Atlanta a 10-9 victory over Cincinnati back in May -- but this finish will be remembered right alongside Conrad's walk-off grand slam, especially if this team goes on to make the playoffs.

"What team hits two homers in the ninth inning to win a ballgame? Hopefully, that means we're a team of destiny," Diaz said. "If this continues, we'll either all have heart attacks or make the playoffs."

The long ball finished off the Marlins, but it was shaky defense that made a game of it. Florida committed three errors and gave up three unearned runs.

Rodriguez was more perturbed at the relievers -- especially Nunez.

"At some point, the bullpen has to step up," the Florida manager said. "With a five-run lead, you have to pound the strike zone. We were doing fine. But the bullpen was unable to hold a five-run lead. That's unacceptable."

Atlanta starter Derek Lowe appeared headed for his fourth straight loss, lasting only three innings. He got himself in trouble right away, giving up a three-run homer to Hanley Ramirez in the first.

Ramirez came out of the game two innings later after a slide into second base. He bent over and poked at his chest, then headed to the dugout with what the team described as lightheadedness.

Lowe surrendered six hits and walked three before leaving with his team trailing 5-1. Bobby Cox wasn't around at the end, either -- the Braves manager was ejected in the sixth after third-base umpire Mike Everitt ruled that Eric Hinske went around for strike three on an attempted check swing.

The Braves sure liked what the umpires ruled in the ninth, however.

Florida had no complaints.

"They got it right," Dan Uggla said. "He hit a home run, and he deserved it."

Right fielder Mike Stanton had the best look at it.

"It disappeared for a minute," he said. "There was like a little rail, and it was behind it. Oh yeah, there was no doubt" it was gone.

Atlanta's only run off Johnson came in the first after Omar Infante reached on a throwing error by second baseman Uggla, who made a nifty scoop up the middle, then bounced the throw to first. With two outs, McCann walked and Hinske came through with a run-scoring single.

Hinske, filling in at first for Derrek Lee, sparked the comeback with an RBI double in the eighth that made it 6-2 and left runners at second and third. Clay Hensley fanned Alex Gonzalez and should have escaped with no further damage, but first baseman Gaby Sanchez couldn't come up with a low throw from Wes Helms after a grounder to third.

The ball skidded into the Atlanta dugout, the error allowing two runs to score.

Notes

  • Lee didn't play after coming out with a strained side muscle on Saturday night. He said it's not a major problem and he hopes to be back in the lineup Monday.
  • Cox extended his record for ejections with the 157th of his career and fourth of the season.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Brian McCann smashes a ball over the yellow line in right that ricochets back on the field before being ruled a homer.  (AP)
Brian McCann smashes a ball over the yellow line in right that ricochets back on the field before being ruled a homer. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

B. McCann
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
Florida

H. Ramirez
AB 2
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
 
Florida Marlins
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Emilio Bonifacio, CF3210200 .263
Logan Morrison, LF5110014 .302
Hanley Ramirez, SS2123000 .299
    Donnie Murphy, PR-SS3111020 .308
Dan Uggla, 2B5120011 .286
Gaby Sanchez, 1B3000202 .288
Chad Tracy, 3B2012110 .257
   a- Wes Helms, PH-3B2000001 .230
Mike Stanton, RF4000025 .238
Brad Davis, C4010024 .250
Josh Johnson, P3000012 .088
    Jose Veras, P0000000 .000
   b- Hector Luna, PH1000012 .125
    Will Ohman, P0000000 .000
    Clay Hensley, P0000000 .000
    Leo Nunez, P0000000 .000
Totals37696511  
a-grounded out for Tracy in the 8th
b-struck out for Veras in the 8th
Batting
2B - Emilio Bonifacio (4, Cr. Martinez), Dan Uggla (22, Lowe)
3B - Donnie Murphy (1, Cr. Martinez)
HR - Hanley Ramirez (18, Lowe)
RBI - Hanley Ramirez 3 (67), Donnie Murphy (13), Chad Tracy 2 (8)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Tracy-Uggla-G. Sanchez
E - Brad Davis (1, Throwing), Gaby Sanchez (8, Missed catch of throw), Dan Uggla (15, Throwing)
Florida Marlins
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Josh Johnson 6310380 2.28
Jose Veras 1000100 3.24
Will Ohman 0.1231100 3.35
Clay Hensley (H,21) 0.2000010 2.72
Leo Nunez (BS,8; L,4-3) 0.2233112 3.83
Pitches-Strikes - Josh Johnson 103-68, Jose Veras 15-7, Will Ohman 17-8, Clay Hensley 13-9, Leo Nunez 25-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Johnson 5-5, Jose Veras 1-2, Clay Hensley 2-0, Leo Nunez 1-0
Batters Faced - Josh Johnson 24, Jose Veras 4, Will Ohman 4, Clay Hensley 3, Leo Nunez 5
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Omar Infante, 2B3100102 .341
    Jonny Venters, P0000000 .000
    Takashi Saito, P0000000 .000
   a- Matt Diaz, PH1112000 .246
Jason Heyward, RF4110122 .272
Martin Prado, 3B5000033 .316
Brian McCann, C4231101 .278
Eric Hinske, 1B4122011 .257
Alex Gonzalez, SS4000025 .262
Melky Cabrera, LF2000210 .259
Rick Ankiel, CF4000003 .235
Derek Lowe, P1000001 .116
    Cristhian Martinez, P1000010 .000
   b- Brooks Conrad, PH-2B1100101 .246
Totals34775610  
a-homered for Saito in the 9th
b-flied out for Cr. Martinez in the 7th
Batting
2B - Eric Hinske (20, Ohman)
HR - Matt Diaz (7, Nunez), Brian McCann (18, Nunez)
RBI - Matt Diaz 2 (28), Brian McCann (69), Eric Hinske 2 (46)
2-OUT RBI - Brian McCann (23), Eric Hinske (18)
SB - Rick Ankiel (2, 3rd base off Johnson/Davis)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Alex Gonzalez (19, Misplayed grounder)
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Derek Lowe 3655341 4.53
Cristhian Martinez 4211020 3.05
Jonny Venters 1100130 1.74
Takashi Saito (W,2-3) 1000120 2.81
WP - Jonny Venters (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Derek Lowe 78-42, Cristhian Martinez 55-32, Jonny Venters 28-16, Takashi Saito 23-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Derek Lowe 2-3, Cristhian Martinez 6-4, Jonny Venters 1-0
Batters Faced - Derek Lowe 18, Cristhian Martinez 14, Jonny Venters 6, Takashi Saito 4
Game Information
Attendance - 38170
Game Time - 3:15
Temperature - 82
Umpires - Home - Adrian Johnson, First Base - Al Porter, Second Base - Tim McClelland, Third Base - Mike Everitt