published Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Uptons blast Braves past Cubs, 6-5

Atlanta Braves' B.J. Upton, right, celebrates with teammate Jason Heyward, after hitting a home run to tie the game during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Atlanta.
Atlanta Braves' B.J. Upton, right, celebrates with teammate Jason Heyward, after hitting a home run to tie the game during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Atlanta.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — B.J. and Justin Upton never had the nerve to imagine an ending like the one they provided Saturday night — not even after they both moved to the Atlanta Braves this offseason.

One brother homers to tie it in the ninth. The other homers to win it.

"We'd never dreamed of being on the same team, much less coming out here and doing that," B.J. Upton said. "It's exciting."

B.J. led off the ninth inning with a homer and Justin followed one out later with another long ball that lifted the Braves past embattled Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol for a 6-5 victory Saturday night.

Justin went 3-for-5 with two RBIs. He also homered in the first inning and now has five homers in Atlanta's first five games.

To have mother Yvonne and father Manny Upton in town all week and at the game for the brothers' heroics only made the night more special.

"Ah, man, I think right now, in my mind, it's No. 1," Justin Upton said. "It was exhilarating out there. We had a great time with it."

For B.J. Upton, the first week had been tough at the plate. He was 0-for-16 with nine strikeouts before his two-out infield single chased Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva in the seventh.

Feeling less pressure as he faced Marmol on a 3-1 count, B.J. crushed the fifth fastball he saw into the left-field seats.

"I know it's there, but to get that first one out of the way, it's kind of the monkey off the back," he said. "Hopefully things will get rolling here."

The Braves rallied from a 5-1 deficit with three runs in the eighth off Kyuji Fujikawa and two in the ninth off Marmol.

Justin Upton's solo shot in the first inning made it 1-all. He had a leadoff double in the eighth and scored the first of three Atlanta runs that cut the lead to 5-4.

Marmol's blown save, his second in three chances this week, wasted what would have been a victory for Villanueva.

The Cubs had taken a 5-1 lead on Nate Schierholtz's RBI single, Anthony Rizzo's two-run homer, Luis Valbuena's solo shot and Wellington Castillo's RBI single, but Chicago left the bases loaded against Anthony Varvaro and Cory Gearrin in the eighth.

Eric O'Flaherty (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth despite allowing a hit and walk.

Marmol (0-1) gave up two hits, both solo homers, in one-third of an inning. His ERA ballooned to 27.00.

Marmol was pulled from a save situation after facing four batters and not recording an out in Chicago's win at Pittsburgh on opening day, but he earned a save Thursday against the Pirates despite giving up two ninth-inning runs.

Marmol blames poor location of his pitches with his most recent struggles.

"I'm trying, I'm trying," he said. "I don't lack confidence. They're hitting my pitches, though. My pitches were working. I just missed the pitch."

The Upton brothers, major offseason acquisitions for Atlanta, became the 25th tandem of brothers to homer in the same major league game and the first since Adam and Andy LaRoche accomplished the feat for Pittsburgh on June 17, 2009.

Making his first start since signing with the Cubs as a free agent in the offseason, Villanueva gave up six hits, one run and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six.

Rizzo was 1 for 14 when his second homer of the season gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead. Schierholtz followed with a double and scored from second on Castillo's single to make it 5-1.

Villanueva began the game with a 12-18 and a 5.33 ERA in 44 career starts with Milwaukee and Toronto, but the right-hander settled down after Upton's solo shot made it 1-all in the first.

Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran allowed eight hits, five runs and one walk with two strikeouts in five innings. The 22-year-old right-hander dropped to 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA in five career big-league starts.

Valbuena's first homer put the Cubs up 2-1 in the fourth. After the Cubs' three-run fifth, Teheran left for a pinch-hitter.

Chicago loaded the bases in the eighth off Varvaro, but earned nothing for the effort. After second baseman Uggla threw to catcher Gerald Laird for a forceout, reliever Gearrin retired Starlin Castro on a flyout and struck out Rizzo.

That set the stage for Atlanta's three-run eighth. Freddie Freeman's RBI single scored Justin Upton, and Ramiro Pena followed with a two-run single to make it 5-4 off Fujikawa.

Then the Uptons stepped in against Marmol, but Justin Upton quickly pointed out that the Braves have plenty of power in their lineup besides him and B.J.

"If you don't get it done, you look to the next guy," he said. "You pass the baton and hope he picks you up. We've done a good job of that out of the gate. That's something we're going to really have to do for each other throughout the year."

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons was out of the lineup with a sprained left thumb. B.J. Upton batted in Simmons' leadoff spot.

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