The Braves Report: This is The Raffy Show

<U><B>Braves 2, Marlins 1 -- 13 innings</B></U> <BR> Rafael Furcal whacked the game winning homerun in the 12th, and the Braves beat the Marlins in 13 innings to avoid the sweep behind strong pitching from Horacio Ramirez. <BR> <BR> <B><U>Down on the farm</B></U> <BR> Bubba Nelson stellar down in Greenville; the Rome Braves split a DH behind solid pitching from Wright and Boyer; Doetsch continues to rake in Orlando.

The pitching matchup lived up to the hype, but it took 13 innings for this game to be decided, as the Braves avoid being swept by the Marlins.

Here is a look at how the two young starters compared on the night:

Horacio Ramirez - 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 109 pitches Dontrelle Willis - 8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 115 pitches

Aside from the walks issued by Ramirez, these two Rookie of the Year candidates had a very similar game.

Florida got on the board first, on a Mike Lowell solo home run in the 4th. Aside from that one blemish, Ramirez kept the Marlins bats in check. Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo combined for four hits at the top of the Marlins order, but unlike previous nights, they were held to no stolen bases, and therefore, no runs.

Rafael Furcal led off the 6th with a walk, and then moved to second on a Marcus Giles ground out. A wild pitch by Dontrelle Willis allowed Furcal to take third. Gary Sheffield knocked in Furcal on a single to center tying the game at 1-1. Sheffield was 3-for-5 on the night, while Marcus Giles went 0-6 and was the only Braves starter without a hit. Maybe he isn't out of his slump after all.

The game went into extra innings still tied at 1-1. The Braves had a scoring opportunity in the 11th, as Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones strung together back-to-back singles with two outs, only to have Andruw Jones fly out to end the inning.

Armando Almanza entered the game in the 13th for the Marlins. The first batter he faced, Rafael Furcal, hit the 1-1 offering from Almanza over the wall down the right field line to put the Braves up 2-1, and that's all they would need for the victory.

The much maligned Braves relief corps took over the game in the 8th and were outstanding. Five relievers combined to throw 6 one-hit innings, striking out 7 and walking only 2 in the process. Kevin Gryboski earned the win to go to 5-3 on the season, while John Smoltz struck out two in the final frame to earn his 30th save of the season.

This victory, combined with a Phillies loss to the Cubs, puts the Braves up 5 1/2 games in the N.L. East. Atlanta also prevents getting swept for only the second time this season, the first coming at the hands of the Expos in the first series of the year. Those same Expos head into Atlanta to face the Braves starting Thursday, as Claudio Vargas (5-3) takes on Shane Reynolds (5-3) at 7:35 ET. Reynolds looks to rebound from three consecutive poor outings, as it looks like Bobby Cox will be sticking with him for the time being.

Down on the farm

Richmond Braves 2, Louisville Bats (CIN) 3 -- 1B Adam LaRoche, SS Jesse Garcia, and C Mike Hubbard had two hits each, but the Braves drop one to the Bats, 3-2. Sam McConnell threw five innings in the start, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, but wasn't involved in the decision. Jamie Emiliano took the loss to fall to 0-4, giving up one unearned run in the 9th for the loss.

Greenville Braves 1, Jacksonville Suns (LA) 0 -- Bubba Nelson was outstanding for the G-Braves, allowing no runs on 4 hits in 6 innings of work, as the Braves defeat the Suns, 1-0. Nelson added six strikeouts and one walk on the day, evening up his record at 7-7. Billy Sylvester earned his 6th save of the season, fanning all three batters he faced in the 9th. C J.C. Boscan was 1-for-3 and drove in the only Braves run.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans - Postponed due to rain.

Savannah Sand Gnats (MON) 0, Rome Braves 1, Game 1 -- Matt Wright tossed a seven inning, three-hit shutout, as the Braves beat the Sand Gnats, 1-0, in game one of the doubleheader. Wright posted 8 strikeouts and no walks in the win, improving his record to 2-0. Rome had only five hits in the game, with RF Onil Joseph knocking in the lone run on a 1-for-4 day.

Savannah Sand Gnats (MON) 2, Rome Braves 1, Game 2 -- Blaine Boyer logged another seven inning complete game for the Braves, but wasn't as fortunate, as the Braves drop game two of the doubleheader, 3-2. Boyer allowed 2 runs on 5 hits, with 8 K's and a walk in the loss, dropping his record to 3-8. DH Brian McCann was 2-for-3 on the day, and had the only multi-hit performance for Rome.

Danville Braves -- Scheduled day off.

Vero Beach Dodgers 0, Orlando Braves 2 -- Does Doetsch rhyme with rake? Didn't think so, but that didn't prevent CF Steve Doetsch form going 3-for-3 with an RBI, as the Braves beat the Dodgers, 2-0. Eduardo Rosario threw 4 innings in the start, allowing only 1 hit, with a walk and 3 K's. Dan Smith picked up the win to improve to 3-0, giving up just one hit in 3 innings of work, and fanning 4.

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