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Padres 4, Braves 3: Norris leads ninth inning heroics

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Atlanta Braves v San Diego Padres Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images

On Zombie Night at Petco Park, the Padres looked beaten down by the slow advance of the shambling corpse of a baseball team known as the Atlanta Braves. Colin Rea held off the bulk of the undead horde for seven innings, but it was Derek Norris who provided the blow in the ninth inning that rallied the surviving Friars to victory.

Freddie Freeman started the rise of the living dead in the first, drawing a two-out walk and shambling to his base. Nick Markakis hit a double off the right field wall immediately after that. Matt Kemp misplayed it, but one of those fast zombie types probably would have scored anyway. Wil Myers tied it up in the bottom half of the inning by drawing a walk and stealing second ahead of Kemp's RBI single.

But the plague of walking corpses spread undaunted, with former Friar farmhand Mallex Smith hitting a leadoff infield single before stealing second. His rotting brain failed him when Colin Rea snagged a grounder from Ender Inciarte, catching Smith in the no-man's land between second and third. Inciarte went to second on that play, and the Braves took the lead on a Chase d'Arnaud single. Another single from Freeman sent d'Arnaud to third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly.

The Padres got one of those back in the fifth inning. Jon Jay hit a leadoff single, and Kemp put him in scoring position with his second hit of the night. Yangervis Solarte drew a walk, juicing the bases and sending Aaron Blair to the showers in favor of Casey Kelly. The one-time Padre limited the damage San Diego could do, allowing just one inherited runner to score on a sacrifice fly.

That's the way things were until the bottom of the ninth inning, as the Braves closed ranks around the Friars and their dwindling supply of bats. But Derek Norris took the classic zombie-killing weapon and used it to crush a fastball into the bullpen to tie things up. Alexei Ramirez followed that up with a single, then he stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Travis Jankowski kept the rally going with a walk. Jon Jay ripped a liner to follow up, but Daniel Castro managed to snag it in midair. It was Wil Myers that ended it, dropping a single into left field to finish the comeback.

The Padres are still looking for their first sweep of the season, and Drew Pomeranz will give them the chance to do it at 12:40 PM tomorrow.