Upton, Heyward spark Braves past Marlins, 5-2

Upton, Heyward spark Braves past Marlins, 5-2

August 29th, 2014 by Associated Press in Sports - Professional

Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward claps after hitting a single to score teammate Andrelton Simmons in their game against the Miami Marlins, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, in Atlanta.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

ATLANTA - Justin Upton homered and had three RBIs, Jason Heyward drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and the Atlanta Braves beat the Miami Marlins 5-2 on Friday night for their third straight win.

The Braves, who have won 10 of their last 14 games, began the night 1 1/2 games back in the National League wild-card standings but are just 19-21 since the All-Star break.

Andrelton Simmons led off the seventh against Chris Hatcher (0-2) with a bunt single and advanced to third on pinch-hitter Ramiro Pena's single.

Simmons scored on Heyward's RBI single off Mike Dunn to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. Upton's RBI single off Sam Dyson drove in Heyward from second, and Emilio Bonifacio also scored to make it 5-2 when center fielder Marcell Ozuna misplayed the ball.

Jordany Valdespin tied it at 2 in the Miami seventh with a pinch-hit homer, the seventh of his career, off reliever David Carpenter (5-3).

Braves starter Ervin Santana allowed one run, five hits and four walks and struck out seven in six innings.

Marlins starter Tom Koehler walked Freddie Freeman to begin the sixth and gave up Upton's 26th homer, a long shot deep into the seats in left-center, for a 2-1 Atlanta lead.

Koehler gave up two runs and four hits with three walks and six strikeouts in six innings.

The Marlins have dropped three straight games and five of six.

Santana needed 32 pitches to finish the first inning, walking three straight batters to load the bases, but escaped the jam by striking out Garrett Jones on three pitches and retiring Marcell Ozuna on a flyout.

In the sixth, Ozuna doubled into the right-field corner off Santana, scoring Casey McGehee from second to make it 1-0, but Garrett Jones was thrown out at the plate on second baseman Tommy La Stella's relay throw to catcher Evan Gattis.

Closer Craig Kimbrel, the fourth Atlanta pitcher, earned his 40th save in 44 chances after facing the minimum in the ninth.

Upton went 2-for-4 and is hitting .307 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs in his 52 games since the start of July, but his brother B.J. is batting .115 in August and was out of the lineup for the fourth time in seven games. The Braves improved to 69-44 dating back to last season with Heyward batting leadoff.

The Braves' starting pitcher tonight will be Aaron Harang (10-8), who is winless with a 5.18 earned run average in four starts this year against the Marlins. Miami counterpart Jarred Cosart (11-8) beat the Braves 6-1 on June 26 while pitching for Houston.

Braves left-hander Jonny Venters, who last pitched in 2012, said he will undergo elbow ligament-replacement surgery for the third time but said "it never crossed my mind" to retire.