MIAMI // The Atlanta Braves nosed ahead of the Florida Marlins in the race for a post-season berth on Monday, beating their National League East rivals 5-2. Atlanta trailed by a run until Omar Infante drove in two runs with a triple in the seventh inning, before scoring himself on catcher David Ross's single to make it 3-1. Adam LaRoche and Yunel Escobar had RBI singles in the eighth inning to stretch the Braves' advantage. The Marlins' second baseman Dan Uggla went 2-for-2, bringing home Jorge Cantu in the second and ninth innings for his team's two runs.
Japanese right-hander Kenshin Kawakami struck out five and gave up just one run in six innings to help Atlanta (69-62) break out of a tie in the standings with the Marlins (68-63). "We can't afford to lose right now," Kawakami said. "So I really wanted to win tonight." Kawakami also battled through a 10-pitch at-bat in the sixth inning against Florida ace Josh Johnson (13-4). Atlanta's Chipper Jones said Kawakami's at-bat looked to have taken a little bit out of Johnson.
"Any 10 or 11-pitch at-bat has a tendency to wear on a pitcher, especially when it's that late in the game," he added. The Braves moved within three games of NL Wild Card leaders San Francisco and Colorado with the win. It was the Marlins' fourth loss in five contests. Atlanta are due to start Tim Hudson tonight, who will make his season debut after undergoing elbow surgery last August. * Reuters