Live blog: Braves take down Tigers, 5-3

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

Live blog: Braves take down Tigers, 5-3

The Tigers simply couldn't find the game-breaker they needed Saturday night at Turner Field and lost to the Braves, 5-3, putting even more excruciating pressure on the Tigers in their final two games if they hope to steal an American League wildcard seat.

Down, 5-2, entering the ninth, the Tigers got a run on Nick Castellanos' double and an infield single from Jose Iglesias, bringing to bat Victor Martinez as a pinch-hitter with one on and two out.

Braves reliever Jim Johnson got Martinez to slap a one-hop grounder to second base to end the game and put into the archives the final Braves night game ever at Turner Field.

Justin Verlander will start for the Tigers in Sunday afternoon's series finale. The Tigers will play the Indians in a Monday make-up game at Comerica Park that will end the formal regular-season calendar for Detroit.

Live blog: Tigers down to the ninth, trailing 5-2

With three outs between them and a tougher road to their wildcard playoff hopes, the Tigers were staring at a rugged ninth-inning chore Saturday at Turner Field.

They trailed the Braves, 5-2, with Justin Upton, Nick Castellanos, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia waiting on Braves reliever Jim Johnson.

Live blog: Braves throttle Tigers' eighth-inning rally

Just when it looked as if the Tigers would do something dramatic and chop into the Braves' 5-2 lead, Atlanta's bullpen put away the Tigers with some pitching and fielding derring-do.

Erick Aybar, pinch-hitting for Kyle Ryan, led off the eighth with a double into the right-field corner. Braves reliever Mauricio Cabrera then walked Ian Kinsler and Cameron Maybin to load the bases with none out.

Up came Miguel Cabrera. In came a new Braves reliever, Chaz Roe.

He got Cabrera on a swinging strike three, then gave up a blistering ground ball that Braves rookie Dansby Swanson dived for and gloved, setting up an instant 6-4-3 double play.

The Braves hung onto their 5-2 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth.

Live blog: Braves swat Greene for two runs and 5-2 lead

The Tigers had pulled to within a run, 3-2, in the seventh before the Braves stormed back with a pair of runs against Shane Greene to take a 5-2 lead into the eighth.

Greene allowed a leadoff single from Dansby Swanson, then a bunt single that put two runners aboard. They were sacrificed to third base and second base and each scored on Adonis Garcia's single to left past a pulled-in Jose Iglesias at short.

The Tigers began to make things interesting in the eighth, loading the bases with one out for Miguel Cabrera and a Braves pitching change.

Detroit Tigers' Justin Upton, right, high-fives third base coach Dave Clark as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the seventh inning.

Live blog: Upton homer pulls Tigers to within a run

Live blog: Upton homer pulls Tigers to within a run

A half-inning after Nick Markakis' home run gave the Braves a two-run edge, the Tigers got a run back in the top of the seventh Saturday night when Justin Upton mashed yet another home run -- his 31st of the season and 18th since Aug. 20 -- when he unloaded on an 89-mph fastball from Adam Blair and drove it on a long line into the left-center field seats.

Blair had struck out 10 Tigers batters and had held the Tigers to only three hits and a single run until Upton boomed yet another long ball during what has been a stunning past month of demolition.

Alex Wilson pitched the fifth and sixth innings for the Tigers following a four-inning stint from starter Jordan Zimmermann.

Live blog: Markakis homer boosts Braves lead to 3-1

The Tigers were no closer to solving Braves starter Adam Blair through six innings Saturday at Turner Field. The Braves, conversely, were doing just enough against Tigers pitching to own a 3-1 lead.

Nick Markakis blasted a high slider from Alex Wilson into the right-field seats with one gone in the sixth to put the Tigers in a deeper hole with innings running short.

One batter earlier, Matt Kemp, who belted two long fly-ball outs Friday as well as a home run, flew out deep again, this time to the warning track in center.

The Tigers had only three hits against Blair through the sixth. They had struck out 10 times.

Live blog: Alex Wilson in as Braves hang onto 2-1 lead

The Tigers got four innings from starter Jordan Zimmermann. But that's all they got after Zimmermann was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the fifth.

The Braves maintained a 2-1 lead through five after Alex Wilson came on to pitch for Detroit and got the Braves in order.

Zimmermann was lifted with two gone in the fifth after Jose Iglesias put down a two-out bunt single ahead of Zimmerann's scheduled at-bat.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus opted for a pinch-hitter, Steven Moya, who struck out on a 3-2 pitch.

Zimmermann's four-inning totals: four innings, three hits, two runs (Freddie Freeman two-run homer), three walks, and two strikeouts.

Live blog: Zimmermann escapes, holds Braves to 2-1 lead

Jordan Zimmermann's tough fourth inning continued even after Freddie Freeeman launched a two-run homer that put Atlanta on top of the Tigers, 2-1, Saturday night at Turner Field.

Zimmermann walked the next batter, allowed a follow-up one-out walk to Anthony Recker, then, with two out, semi-intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to pitch to Braves starter Adam Blair.

Zimmermann got Blair to hit an easy grounder to Jose Iglesias at short for a force-out at second.

Zimmermann had a strong first three innings, but a single, homer, and three walks in the fourth put him in danger of not making it past the mid-innings.

Live blog: Freeman two-run homer hands Braves 2-1 lead

Two batters into the Braves' half of the fourth was enough to blow away the Tigers' early 1-0 lead.

After a leadoff single by Adonis Garcia, Freddie Freeman, the left-handed hitting crusher who had a 30-game hitting streak snapped Thursday, got back into rhythm when he golfed a low slider from Jordan Zimmermann into the right-center field seats for a two-run homer that put Atlanta in the lead, 2-1, in a game that will determine, one way or another, the Tigers' playoff fate and remaining schedule.

The Tigers have only one hit against Braves starter Adam Blair, a RBI double from Ian Kinsler.

Live blog: Zimmermann keeps Tigers on top, 1-0

A half-inning after the Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the third, the Braves acted as if they might knot Saturday night's score at Turner Field.

Dansby Swanson lashed a one-out single to left that became a double when Justin Upton was a tad late getting to it, and Swanson soon was at third following Adam Blair's sacrifice bunt.

Zimmermann, though, coaxed Ender Inciarte into a ground-out to Miguel Cabrera at first and the Tigers remained in the thinnest of leads as they chased their fourth consecutive victory.

Kinsler double gives Tigers 1-0 lead

The Tigers at least temporarily solved Braves starter Adam Blair after he had worked them over through two innings as they grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third, courtesy of Ian Kinsler's smoking double to left, which knocked in Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Saltalamacchia, who once played for the Braves, began the Tigers' half of the third with a walk. With one out, Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann dropped down a neat bunt that pushed Saltalamacchia to second, from where he scored on Kinsler's liner past Matt Kemp in left.

Tigers bedeviled by Blair curveballs

He came into the game with a 1-7 record and 8.02 ERA, and his fastball -- if it can be called that -- barely scrapes 90 mph.

But it's the slow-poke curveball that has made Braves starter Adam Blair nasty through two innings at Turner Field.

Blair has struck out five of the first six Tigers in the final night game of Turner Field's 20-year history.

The only Tigers player to put a ball in play has been Miguel Cabrera, who flied to center in the first.

Braves, Tigers go 1-2-3 in first

Jordan Zimmermann got the Braves on three fly-ball outs in the first inning of Saturday night's Tigers-Braves game at Turner Field.

It matched the 1-2-3 tumble the Tigers took in the first against low-gear Braves right-hander Aaron Blair, who isn't above throwing three curveballs at 70-plus mph to a batter, and putting him away, as he did with leadoff batter Ian Kinsler. Blair then struck out Cameron Maybin with more of his junkball/low-90s fastball mix, and got Miguel Cabrera on a fly-out to center.

The Tigers were shooting for their fourth consecutive victory and at least a minimum of wiggle room in their bid to win a playoff spot.

Tigers crossing fingers with Zimmermann

His velocity has been down, his health has been erratic, and his last start was a wreck, but the Tigers opted for Jordan Zimmermann's experience Saturday night as they met the Braves at Turner Field with a Tigers playoff ticket temptingly close.

Zimmermann has had all manner of neck issues since spring after he began with an astounding April that quickly withered. But the Tigers right-hander was a star with the Nationals in the same division as the Braves, has pitched plenty against Atlanta, and has playoff experience, all of which became, in manager Brad Ausmus' mind, the best of few options as the Tigers made a bid for their fourth consecutive victory.

Tonight's game is the final night game in Turner Field history. The Tigers and Braves close out Turner Field's baseball existence Sunday when Justin Verlander starts for the Tigers in their next-to-last regular-season game of 2016.

In control of their playoff destiny, the Detroit Tigers play the second game of their three-game series against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday at 7:10 p.m.

Follow the action here with live updates throughout the game by Lynn Henning of The Detroit News.

The Tigers entered the MLB schedule of games Saturday one-half game behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second AL wild-card spot.

TIGERS LINEUP

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Cameron Maybin, CF

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. J.D. Martinez, RF

5. Justin Upton, LF

6. Nick Castellanos, 3B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Jose Iglesias, SS

9. Jordan Zimmermann, P

BRAVES LINEUP

1. Ender Inciarte, CF

2. Adonis Garcia, 3B

3. Freddie Freeman, 1B

4. Matt Kemp, LF

5. Nick Markakis, RF

6. Anthony Recker, C

7. Jace Peterson, 2B

8. Dansby Swanson, SS

9. Aaron Blair, P

TIGERS VS. BRAVES

When: Saturday, 7:10 p.m.

Where: Turner Field, Atlanta

Pitching matchup: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (9-6, 4.88) vs. RHP Aaron Blair (1-7, 8.02)

Local TV: Fox Sports Detroit

National TV: None

Internet streaming: MLB.TV (blacked out in Detroit market)

Local radio: 97.1 FM

Satellite radio: SIRI Internet 849