Defensive gems put Braves in position to win

Simmons' heads-up relay, 2 double plays wipe out scoring threats

Defensive gems put Braves in position to win

ATLANTA -- Before the end of the tunnel on the way to the Braves' dugout, there's a sign showing Atlanta's Gold Glove Award winners and the line: "Defense wins championships."

The Braves' 3-2 walk-off win over the Brewers in 11 innings Saturday was no championship, but the sign's mantra paved the way for the team's 21st victory of the season, lifting them back to .500.

"There was so [much] great stuff in that game, fundamentally sound -- both teams," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "There was some pretty good stuff happening."

While second baseman Jace Peterson will be remembered for his walk-off single, Atlanta's defense routinely got the Braves out of trouble to create his game-winning opportunity.

The first came with one out in the sixth inning after Shelby Miller loaded the bases. Pinch-hitter Khris Davis came to the plate and grounded right back to Miller, who fired home to A.J. Pierzynski before he completed the 1-2-3 double play with a strong throw to first baseman Freddie Freeman.

The next play showed yet another glimpse at the arm of Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons. On what seemed like a routine single to the outfield, Simmons cut off a throw from right fielder Nick Markakis and immediately turned and fired to first base to catch Luis Sardinas rounding the bag.

Must C: Simmons' wise cutoff

"We always talk about [Simmons'] nose for the ball," Gonzalez said. "He's always looking for the outs."

Another big play came in the 10th inning with one out and runners on the corners. Adam Lind hit a sharp grounder on the first pitch from Luis Avilan right at Freeman, who came up with the ball cleanly and started a 3-6-3 double play that kept the game tied, 2-2.

Avilan's big DP in 10th

"You just want to catch the ball and make sure you make a good throw," Freeman said. "Just get it in the vicinity of [Simmons], and he'll seem to catch it and get it back to you."

Miller has been the beneficiary of some strong Atlanta defense this year (opponents are hitting just .206 on balls in play), and chalked up the win to the gloves behind him.

"Hands down, defense played great," he said. "We got out of some key jams throughout this game because of our defense. And you know, you tip your caps to them."

Carlos Collazo is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.