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Braves continue offensive assault against Phillies, Halladay

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- Roy Halladay became victim No. 2 of the Atlanta Braves' new power-packed lineup Wednesday night.

Justin Upton hit his second homer in as many games and Evan Gattis went deep in his major-league debut, pacing the Braves to a rainy 9-2 victory over Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Upton, acquired in a winter trade from Arizona, hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Gattis added a leadoff home run in the fourth off Halladay. The rookie catcher, who had struck out in his first at-bat, is the seventh Atlanta player to homer in his first game.

"It's special coming off him, a name like that," Gattis said of Halladay.

But the Braves are making everyone pay and the two-time Cy Young Award winner lasted just 3 1/3 innings as his struggles carried over from spring training.

"I'm frustrated," Halladay said. "I should've gone deeper than that."

Jason Heyward made it a second straight three-homer game by the Braves with a two-run blast off Jonathan Papelbon in the eighth inning. Freddie Freeman, who had a three-run double, is 5-for-7 with a homer and six RBIs.

"Any time we can jump out in front of a pitcher like Halladay, it's a plus for us," Upton said. "Our team is 2-0 and we're swinging the bats. It's always fun when that happens."

The Braves struck out 16 times, but have scored 16 runs while taking the first two games of the opening series against the Phillies. Cole Hamels gave up three homers in a 7-5 loss on Monday.

Braves starter Paul Maholm didn't need all the support, shutting out the Phillies on six hits through 5 2/3 innings. The left-hander struck out six and walked one, throwing 66 of his 97 pitches for strikes.

Maholm's outing was a continuation of his success in spring training, when he was 4-1 with a 1.53 ERA and didn't allow an earned run in his last 24 2/3 innings.

Halladay, who gave up six hits and three walks, was charged with five runs and needed 95 pitches to make it through 3 1/3 innings. Nine of the 10 outs he recorded came on strikeouts.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner fell off to 11 victories last season as his ERA jumped to 4.49 and he struggled during spring training, posting a 6.06 ERA. He came into the season one victory shy of the 200-win milestone.

"I'm going to fix it. I'm going to fix it," said Halladay, who turns 36 in May. "It will be fixed and the results will be better."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has to count on that.

"His velocity is starting to come up," Manuel said. "Location is how you win games. That's what hurt him early. I thought after the first inning he was OK."

Heyward singled with one out in the first and Upton followed with a long homer to right-center field. Halladay didn't get a 1-and-2 sinker down quite enough and Upton took him deep the opposite way.

Before Halladay could get his third strikeout in the 40-pitch first inning, the Braves added a third run on two walks and a single by Juan Francisco.

The first eight outs Halladay recorded came on strikeouts, including a streak of five in row from the final batter of the first inning to the opening hitter of the third.

But Gattis led off the fourth inning by connecting on a 1-and-1 cutter clocked at 88 mph, his drive just clearing the fence in left-center field.

"He's missing his spots," Manuel said. "I still think he is going to be alright. He'll get there. I think he'll give us a consistent seven innings when he finds his location."

Halladay was pulled after Andrelton Simmons followed with a one-out single and reliever Raul Valdes issued two walks before Freeman delivered a three-run double off the left-hander to make the score 7-0.

The Phillies' runs came in the seventh inning on a double by Chase Utley off Cristhian Martinez.

Rain began falling about a half hour before the first pitch and continued throughout the game. More rain and temperatures in the 40s are forecast for Thursday night's series finale.

NOTES: Left-hander Jonny Venters, who will be shut down for the next four weeks, hopes to avoid a second Tommy John elbow surgery. An MRI was inconclusive and the reliever received a platelet-rich plasma injection from Dr. James Andrews in Florida on Tuesday. "Hopefully when they let me pick up a ball again, it will feel good," Venters said Wednesday. "I'm upbeat and positive." ... RHP Kris Medlen goes into his start against the Phillies in the series finale Thursday trying to extend a major-league record streak. The Braves have won the last 23 games he has started dating back to 2010. Medlen was 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA as a starter last season. ... LHP Cliff Lee, who will oppose Medlen, didn't get a victory last year until his 14th start. ... Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera joined the Phillies on Wednesday after being claimed off waivers from Cleveland the day before. To make room for Carrera, the Phillies designated Rule 5 draft pick OF Ender Inciarte for assignment.
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