ATLANTA -- Although they have a losing record in September heading to the playoffs, the Atlanta Braves showed Tuesday night they haven't lost their late-game magic.
Andrelton Simmons singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 for their 11th walk-off victory at Turner Field.
It was the third time Simmons supplied the heroics, and he was mobbed by his happy teammates in the infield.
"They got me with water, dirt, a lot of dirt and some more dirt," Simmons said. "It was fun."
Justin Upton opened the ninth with a single off reliever Donovan Hand (0-5), moved to second on an infield hit by Evan Gattis and scored on Simmons' two-out hit, giving the Braves a 24th victory in their final at-bat.
"I struggled with runners in scoring position a little bit earlier this year, but I've been learning," said Simmons, who lined a 0-1 curveball to center field. "It took me a while to learn what I need to do in those type of situations."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, "We know what kind of defender he is, and I think he's just going to get better and better as a hitter."
With the win, the East Division-champion Braves retained the best record in the National League despite a 10-12 mark in September. Atlanta (93-64) holds a half-game edge over the St. Louis Cardinals (93-65) in the race for home-field advantage in the NL playoffs.
"We have a lot to play for," Gonzalez said. "That home-field advantage is big. It's a big carrot that is dangling in front of us. It's important to try and get the best record."
Freddy Garcia, bidding for a spot in the Braves' postseason rotation, pitched well again, and the bullpen finished off the game strong. Closer Craig Kimbrel (4-3) got the victory after striking out the side in the ninth inning.
Atlanta's Freddie Freeman tied the game in the sixth inning with his 106th RBI. His single followed singles by Jason Heyward and Justin Upton off Brewers starter Tyler Thornburg.
Thornburg worked seven innings in the longest of his 10 major league starts. He allowed seven hits and two runs. The rookie right-hander, who came in with a 3-1 record and 1.96 ERA, struck out eight and walked one.
"It gives me a lot of confidence going into the offseason," said Thornburg, who went to high school in suburban Atlanta.
Thornburg was 0-9 with a 5.79 ERA in 15 starts for Triple-A Nashville, but he is living up to his billing as one of Milwaukee's top prospects since being promoted to the Brewers in July.
"Coming in here the second half and getting right into the rotation, I think he's done exceptionally well overall," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said of Thornburg.
Garcia, meanwhile, turned in his third strong outing in as many starts for the Braves since being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in late August. The veteran right-hander allowed six hits and two runs over 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking one.
"He doesn't rattle," Gonzalez said. "He's a nice piece we added to our roster."
Jeff Bianchi picked on the first pitch of the fifth inning to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead, sending an off-speed offering from Garcia over the left field fence for his first homer of the season.
In the third, Norichika Aoki doubled and scored on Lucroy's two-out single. The Braves tied it in the fourth, also with two outs, on a single by Freeman and a double by Gattis, who was trapped off second base to end the inning.
Gattis, who was 4-for-39 in his previous 10 games, went 3-for-4, while Freeman and Upton each went 2-for-4. Freeman is batting .315.
NOTES: Potentially lining up for the playoffs, Braves RHP Kris Medlen will start Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies, and he will be followed by LHP Mike Minor and RHP Julio Teheran to close the regular season. ... Atlanta RHP David Hale, who struck out nine over five innings in his major league debut against the San Diego Padres on Sept. 13, will start Thursday's series opener against the Phillies. ... Braves 3B Chris Johnson, second in the NL batting race with a .327 average, did not start Tuesday. He was hitless in his previous 10 at-bats. ... C Brian McCann returned to the Braves' lineup after the birth of a daughter Monday. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.
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