Uptons break out to boost Teheran, Braves
Justin homers, has three hits, B.J. adds two, scores go-ahead run
MIAMI -- Instead of enjoying their first opportunity to play together, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton have spent most of the past three months mired in extended slumps that have produced nothing but regular frustration.
But as the Braves claimed a 6-4 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night, they were reminded of how grand life could be with the Upton brothers producing at the same time.
"As the season progresses, it's been different guys at different points," Justin Upton said. "You've just got to ride it until you're clicking on all cylinders. But yeah, it was nice for us both to swing the bat well tonight."
Building off the encouraging signs he has provided while consistently hitting the ball to the opposite filed over the past few days, Justin Upton collected three extra-base hits, including his first home run since June 12.
While B.J. Upton was credited with just two singles, he hit the ball hard in each of his four plate appearances and distanced himself from some of the misery he experienced while compiling the Major League-worst .173 batting average he carried into this game.
His sixth-inning leadoff single put him in position to show off his speed as he raced to second base on Chris Johnson's fly ball to deep center field. He then scored the game's decisive run from second when Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez made an errant throw to first after fielding Julio Teheran's swinging bunt near the third-base line.
"I'm starting to feel better at the plate, actually a lot better," B.J. Upton said. "I'm hitting the ball a lot better. Hopefully I can take this right to the break and have something to build on."
With the Upton brothers leading the way on the defensive end, Teheran provided the Braves the efficient start they needed after their bullpen worked more than half of Monday night's series-opening 14-inning win. Teheran needed 51 pitches to complete the first three innings -- which were marred by a couple of defensive miscues -- and then threw just 44 more in his final 4 1/3 innings.
Teheran fell short of the complete game he had told the bullpen he would deliver. But while allowing just one earned run in 7 1/3 innings, the 22-year-old hurler showed he is blessed with both great physical skills and a good understanding of his craft. Understanding the need to go deep in the game, he was much more aggressive than he had been while needing 100 pitches to complete five innings against the Marlins last week.
"We needed that kind of outing after going 14 innings and having two or three guys in the bullpen who we didn't want to pitch," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He gave us a great outing."
Most of the damage Teheran incurred came courtesy of Rob Brantly's three-run home run with two outs in the second inning. Brantly's shot down the right-field line came after the inning began with a couple of defensive mistakes, committed by Justin Upton, who allowed Logan Morrison's routine fly ball to fall in left field, and Chris Johnson, who booted Marcell Ozuna's potential double-play grounder.
Justin Upton more than made up for his defensive mistake as he produced his third three-hit game dating back to June 29. His opposite-field double scored Jason Heyward in Atlanta's two-run third inning, and his fifth-inning double put him in position to score on Brian McCann's game-tying single with one out.
But his highlight of the night came when he opened the seventh inning against Ryan Webb with a monstrous home run that hit near the top of the green wall that stands at least 30 feet beyond the left-center-field wall. The impressive solo shot brought back memories of the 12 home runs he hit in April. It was just the second home run he has hit in his past 44 games.
"It's a long season," Gonzalez said. "I know we're always wishing for me. But there's going to be ups and downs. You've got to be patient with the guys and they'll be fine. He's starting to swing it like he did early on in the season."