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MLB: Braves break out the brooms

MIAMI (AP) — The way the Atlanta Braves are pitching, one big swing from their backup catcher was enough to complete a sweep.

A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-run homer and five pitchers combined on a six-hitter Wednesday night to help Atlanta beat the Miami Marlins for the third game in a row, 2-0.

The season-opening sweep was the first for the Braves since 2007. They’re supposedly rebuilding, while the Marlins have playoff hopes, but Atlanta outscored Miami 16-3 in the series.

“To come in here and play against a team people are expecting big things out of, and to play the way we did, hopefully it carries over,” Pierzynski said.

Shelby Miller made his first start with the Braves and allowed four hits in five innings. Brandon Cunniff (1-0) followed with 1 2-3 perfect innings for his first major-league victory.

Jason Grilli, who assumed the closer’s job when Craig Kimbrel was traded on the eve of the season, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save in as many chances.

The 38-year-old Pierzynski, playing in his first game with his newest team, broke up a scoreless tie in the seventh inning against Tom Koehler (0-1).

“For my first hit as a Brave to be a home run is pretty cool,” Pierzynski said. “But more important is the way we pitched tonight. Our guys were lights out from Shelby all the way to Grilli. That was the biggest thing. I’m so proud the way we pitched, not only tonight but the whole series. We did a really good job containing them, making big pitches in big situations.”

The Braves lowered their ERA to 1.00, while the Marlins are batting .200. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami’s $325 million slugger, struck out three times and is batting .125. Adeiny Hechavarria is 0 for 10.

“You go through spells like that,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.

Koehler held the Braves scoreless until his 92nd and final pitch. He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to Freddie Freeman, and Pierzynski followed with a homer.

“Koehler left the ball over the plate, and he ambushed it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

“You’ve got to hit it to get it out of this ballpark. It went out pretty easily.”

For the third game in a row, the Marlins loaded the bases and failed to score. Miller escaped the jam when Michael Morse grounded out to end the inning.

Success for the Braves is nothing new at Marlins Park, where they are 22-9.

“We played good baseball,” Gonzalez said. “We pitched and had timely hitting.”

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