It would be difficult for Justin Upton to equal, much less surpass, his remarkable first week with the Braves. But it looks as if he’s going to try.
On a night when Braves pitcher Paul Maholm didn’t need much assistance, Upton provided plenty with four hits including his major league-leading sixth home run Monday in a 2-0 series-opening win against Miami at Marlins Park.
Maholm (2-0) limited the Marlins to one hit in seven innings and hasn’t allowed a run in 12/2/3 innings during his first two starts. The Braves improved to 6-1 and moved 1-1/2 games ahead of idle Washington atop the NL East standings.
“I just told (Upton) to make sure he keeps doing it when I pitch,” Maholm joked, after teaming with Eric O’Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel for the Braves’ first shutout win.
“It’s fun,” said Upton, who also had two singles and a double in a 4-for-4 performance that raised his average to .423. “We’re winning in different ways. Every night it’s different, so we’re having fun out there. It’s been a good week.”
It was the eighth career game with at least four hits for Upton, and his first as a Brave. He had a three-hit, two-homer game Saturday that included a walk-off homer for his third game-winning RBI, most in the majors before Monday.
“He’s a guy that can carry you,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “That’s what a three-hole hitter does. You sprinkle some support staff around here and there and he can carry you.”
Upton was asked if he was on some sort of mission to show Arizona that it made a mistake trying to trade him over the past couple of years before finally dealing him to the Braves in January.