Justin Upton, Paul Maholm lead 2-0 Braves win

Justin Upton, Paul Maholm lead 2-0 Braves win

April 9th, 2013 by Associated Press in Sports - Professional

Atlanta Braves' Chris Johnson watches his bunt fall short during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Miami.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

MIAMI - Justin Upton went 4-for-4, including his sixth home run, and Paul Maholm allowed one hit in seven sharp innings to help the Atlanta Braves spoil the Miami Marlins' home opener Monday by winning 2-0.

The Braves earned their fourth consecutive victory and improved to 6-1, their best start since 2007. The Marlins lost their third game in a row and fell to 1-6, their worst start since 2006.

Announced attendance was 34,439, with thousands of empty seats and many tickets sold at discounted prices. Some fans pledged to stay away this season because they're angry that owner Jeffrey Loria reverted to a frugal payroll only a year after the team opened a new ballpark built mostly with taxpayer money.

Loria watched the game from his suite, out of the view of potential boo-birds. A handful of spectators wore homemade T-shirts disparaging him, a few others had bags over their heads, and many wore jerseys of Marlins traded in the past year, including Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson.

The only holdover from the Marlins' opener a year ago who was in the lineup was Giancarlo Stanton, who went 0-for-1 with three walks to drop his average to .174.

The team's newcomers couldn't do much against Maholm (2-0), who remained unscored upon this season in 12 2/3 innings over two starts. He struck out seven and walked three.

Craig Kimbrel needed 28 pitches to get through the ninth. He struck out Adeiny Hechavarria with two on to complete the two-hitter for his third save.

Upton singled in the first, doubled in the fourth and homered in the sixth. With a chance at the cycle he singled in the eighth, which dropped his slugging percentage to 1.192 but raised his batting average to .423.

Upton, who came into the game tied for the major league lead in homers, hit a solo shot for a 2-0 lead against Kevin Slowey (0-2). Atlanta also scored in the fourth when Upton doubled, went to third on a flyout and came home on Dan Uggla's groundout.

The Braves, who lead the National League East, started a stretch that includes 16 of 18 games on the road.

Atlanta struck out only six times, an improvement, but slumping B.J. Upton went 0-for-5 and Jason Heyward was 0-for-4. B.J. Upton is batting .120 and Heyward .083.

Slowey, who was seeking his first victory since 2010, allowed two runs in seven innings. Marlins starters are 1-4 despite an earned run average of 2.50.

The Marlins went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and are batting .170 in those situations. The lone hit off Maholm was a single by Placido Polanco in the third inning.

Atlanta went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained right thumb.