A packed house turned out on opening night at Turner Field for a look at the revamped Braves and their power-infused lineup. Most got what they came to see.
Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla and newcomer Justin Upton hit home runs for the Braves in an 7-5 win against the Philadelphia Phillies before an enthusiastic sellout crowd of 51,456.
“Everything kind of fell into place tonight,” said Upton, who hit a solo homer in the fifth inning after Philadelphia cut the lead to 4-3. “It was great that the guys came out swinging the bats well, I was able to contribute and we got a W at the same time. You can’t beat that night.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of his team’s long-ball display: “We can do that. It’s nice to see.”
Craig Kimbrel had one strikeout in a perfect ninth inning for a convincing save to open the season, after some shaky performances by the overpowering Braves closer during spring training and the World Baseball Classic. Ryan Howard flied out to left to end the game.
All of Atlanta’s homers came against Phillies ace Cole Hamels, who was knocked around for five runs in five innings. The Braves hit as many homers against him Monday as they’d hit in 43 innings over Hamels’ past seven starts against them.
“We have the power to go blow-for-blow with anybody,” said Uggla, who struggled through spring training but quieted his critics at least for one night.
Braves veteran Tim Hudson was staked to a 3-0 lead on Freeman’s two-out, two-run homer in the first inning and Uggla’s leadoff homer in the second, which came on a 3-and-0 pitch.
Hudson allowed three baserunners through three scoreless innings before Chase Utley’s leadoff homer in the fourth.