Braves back in playoffs

ATLANTA - This time, the Atlanta Braves held onto their big lead and locked up a playoff trip with plenty of time to spare.

It couldn't have felt any sweeter for retiring star Chipper Jones.

Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to put Atlanta back in the postseason with a 4-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

Freeman's dramatic drive off Mike Dunn clinched at least a National League wild-card berth for the Braves, who squandered a big lead in the wild-card race with a huge collapse last September.

"They took the attitude last year to try and hang on," Jones said. "This year we took the bull by the horns. We're shooting for the stars. We're shooting for the division until they close us out."

Jones, who plans to retire at the end of the season, led off the ninth with a double. He moved to third on a wild pitch by Dunn (0-3) and scored when Freeman's 22nd homer easily cleared the center-field wall.

Craig Kimbrel (3-1) worked a scoreless inning as the Braves won their 22nd straight game started by Kris Medlen. The streak is the longest in the majors since the New York Yankees won 22 straight games started by Whitey Ford in 1950 and '53.

Last year's September flop was fresh on Medlen's mind.

"You can't really win consistently until you lose," said Medlen, who gave up three runs on five hits and struck out eight in seven innings. "Losing's a big part of being able to win."

The first two home runs of rookie Donovan Solano's career, a solo drive in the second and a two-run shot in the seventh, accounted for all of Miami's runs.

Returning to the postseason helps wipe away some of last season's frustration for the Braves, who blew an 8½-game lead in the wild-card standings and missed the playoffs after a historic meltdown.


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