Braves blank Marlins to seize command of MLB playoff series

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Atlanta's Dansby Swanson and Travis d'Arnaud hit home runs and the Braves reached the brink of advancing in the Major League Baseball playoffs by defeating Miami 2-0 on Wednesday.

The Braves, who haven't won the World Series since 1995, took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five second-round series and could complete a sweep of the Marlins on Thursday.

The Atlanta-Miami winner will face either the San Diego Padres or Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

The Dodgers could grab a 2-0 series lead when they face the Padres later.

Other MLB playoff games Wednesday sent Houston against Oakland and Tampa Bay against the New York Yankees.

Marlins starting pitcher Pablo Lopez surrendered solo homers to Swanson in the second inning and d'Arnaud in the fourth to give the Braves all the scoring they needed.

Atlanta pitcher Ian Anderson went 5 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, allowing only three hits with one walk, and four relievers did not allow a base hit.

Anderson improved to 2-0 in the playoffs with 17 strikeouts, crediting his mound mastery with a strong change-up pitch he has fired for 58 strikes in two games.

"It feels good," Anderson said. "It has been a huge pitch for me since I got here. We stuck with it all day and had some good results."

The Braves became only the third team in MLB history to start a playoff run with three shutouts in its first four games, joining the 1966 Baltimore Orioles and 1905 New York Giants.

Atlanta pitchers have thrown 37 scoreless inning so far in the playoffs.