Braves 7, Marlins 6

Justin Upton was eager to get his first hit with the Atlanta


Boy, it was a memorable one Monday, even if it was just spring


Upton launched one of the longest home runs ever seen at the

Disney World complex, a towering drive that cleared the grass berm

beyond left field, as the Braves picked up their first win of the

spring with a 7-6 victory over the Miami Marlins.

Upton’s teammates estimated the homer traveled at least 450

feet. He was thrilled just to get a hit after starting 0 for 6 this

spring, having joined the Braves – and older brother B.J. – after a

blockbuster trade with Arizona.

”I don’t know (how far it went). I don’t have a tape measure,”

Justin Upton said. ”I hit it good. Everything just happened to

fall into place for me and I squared up. Obviously, you know when

you’ve got it. The ball just leaves your bat differently when you

catch one square. You more know from the sound. When you hear that

sound, you know, `All right, I got that one pretty good.”’

He didn’t see fans scrambling to the top of the hill, looking up

helplessly as the ball sailed over the heads toward the players’

parking lot.

”I tried to put my head down,” he said. ”It’s spring

training. You shouldn’t be admiring home runs right now.”

Upton was hoping he didn’t do any damage to his new teammates’


”I guess they’ll send me a bill if I did,” he said.

Miami manager Mike Redmond joked that he thought Upton’s homer

was foul.

”That’s the way I used to hit `em,” Redmond added, breaking

into a grin. ”No one ever got to see `em because they were only in

my dreams.”

The Marlins led 1-0 when Jason Heyward opened the fourth with a

drive over the right-field wall. Upton made it back-to-back homers

off loser Scott Maine, and B.J. chipped in with a double, coming

around to score on a stolen base and wild pitch to make it 3-1.

That’s just the sort of speed and power the Braves are hoping to

get from their revamped outfield this season. Heyward is the only

holdover, joined by the Upton brothers; B.J. was a free agent who

signed a five-year, $75.25 million contract.

Both Uptons had a couple of hits, and B.J. also threw out a

runner trying to tag and go to third.

”We’re just trying to do what we’re capable of,” Heyward said.

”We know we’ve got some speed on the bases. In the outfield, we

know we can play some above-average defense. We take pride in that.

We know we can hit home runs. We know we can put the ball in play

and beat `em out on the basepaths. We’re just trying to bring what

we can every day.”

Atlanta extended the lead to 7-1 before Miami put together a

five-run eighth against Yohan Flande. Anthony Varvaro worked the

ninth for a save.

”I like the way we battled,” said Redmond, whose team has

largely been stripped of its high-priced players i9n an offseason

purge that infuriated south Florida and made the Marlins a punch

line around the rest of baseball.

Left-hander Wade LeBlanc, battling for a spot in the Miami

rotation, pitched two perfect innings at the start against a lineup

largely comprised of Atlanta starters.

”You always like to have a lefty in the rotation, esecially in

our division (NL East) where you have a lot of big lefty hitters,”

Redmond said. ”If he pitches like he did today, he’s going to put

a lot of pressure on us to put him on the team.”

NOTES: Kris Medlen, who is expected to be Atlanta’s opening-day

starter, pitched around two hits, an error and a wild pitch to go

two scoreless innings in his first spring appearance. … The

Marlins outhit the Braves 14-12. Chris Coghlan, Joe Mahoney and

Alfredo Silverio had two hits apiece for Miami. … Flande has

gotten off to a brutal start, giving up six runs in two innings

over his first two appearances.

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