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Heyward, Freeman lift Braves over Marlins

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 31, 2014 at 7:52 pm •  Published: May 31, 2014
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MIAMI (AP) — Shae Simmons didn't think he would make his major league debut in a close game.

But the 23-year old reliever for the Atlanta Braves was ready nonetheless.

Simmons struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end the eighth inning in a one-run game as the Braves went on to beat the Miami Marlins 9-5 on Saturday.

"I wasn't really thinking," Simmons said. "I thought I was done for the day and I'd just come tomorrow, but luckily I went in and threw strikes."

Veteran catcher Gerald Laird helped Simmons settle in with the Braves leading 6-5 with runners on first and second.

"I told him, 'Don't worry about calling your game. Let me call the game, just throw it where I call it,'" Laird said. "And he did a good job of that."

Simmons was one of six Braves relievers used to help Ervin Santana (5-2) win his first game since May 10 against the Cubs.

"I drank a whole bottle of coffee because I thought I felt like I was about to doze off out there (in the bullpen)," Simmons said. "Then all of the guys just started talking and said to treat it like any other day."

Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman each drove in a pair of runs to lead the Braves offense, which pounded out 12 hits.

"It was nice to add some runs up on the board," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Guys got some good at-bats."

Santana (5-2) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out four.

Craig Kimbrel got the last two outs for his 15th save of the season, which tied him with John Smoltz for the most saves in franchise history with 154.

"I know if John would have done it his whole career he would have had a lot more," Kimbrel said. "It is nice to say I'm a part of something like that, but then again I've had a lot of opportunities and played on some good ball teams in the first three or four years. If it weren't for that case, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about this right now."

Derek Dietrich and Casey McGehee each drove in two runs and Christian Yelich had three hits for the Marlins as starter Jacob Turner (1-3) took the loss allowing five runs in five innings.

Six Miami pitchers combined to walk nine batters and three errors led to two unearned runs.

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