Braves Win: Justin Upton Homers In Marlins Opener

The Atlanta Braves spoiled the Miami Marlins home opener on Monday night with a 2-0 win for their fourth straight victory. Justin Upton led the Braves in game one in Miami with his sixth home run in seven games, which is good enough for the MLB lead.

Upton came over to Atlanta this spring to join his brother, B.J. Upton, who signed with the club this offseason after eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. Justin Upton joined the Braves in January after the Arizona Diamondbacks traded their star outfielder for the Braves’ Martin Prado and a bevy of prospects.

Though B.J. Upton is hitting just .118 to start the season, his brother has been on a roll and kept it going Monday with a solo shot in the sixth inning.

Paul Maholm got the start for the Braves and went on to win his second straight start after pitching seven strong innings. Maholm gave up just one hit while walking three and striking out seven before being relieved.

Maholm didn’t get much run support Monday, and he didn’t need it, as the 30-year-old failed to give up a hit after the third inning. In the top of the fourth, Justin Upton double to right field and was driven in by Dan Uggla on a groundout that gave the Braves a 1-0 lead.

Two innings later, Upton homered to deep left to extend the Braves lead to two, which ended up being enough as the Braves bullpen shut down the Marlins.

Eric O’Flaherty came into the game and pitched a scoreless eighth inning for his second hold of the season before Craig Kimbrel came in for the save. With runners on the corners and two outs, Kimbrel struck out shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to spoil the Marlins home opener.

Kimbrel now has three saves, second to Sergio Romo of the San Francisco Giants in the National League. Kevin Slowey got the start for the Marlins and pitched quite well against the surging Braves, though run support never showed.

Slowey went seven innings on six hits and two earned runs while striking out three in the game. The Marlins have yet to score a run for Slowey this season, as they lost 3-0 to the Nationals in his first start.

The Marlins will look to rebound on Tuesday with Wade LeBlanc on the mound. The Braves Kris Medlen will start opposite of LeBlanc, and both pitchers are currently 0-1 with a 3.60 earned run average. The Braves have given up less runs than any team in the MLB this season outside of the Los Angeles Dodgers and, with Justin Upton’s help, have moved into first in the NL East.

Are the Atlanta Braves the best team in the NL East? Will Justin Upton continue his tear at the plate in game two on Tuesday?