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Braves' Upton homers in reunion with D-backs

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- Justin Upton swore he treated his return to Arizona on Monday as just another game. In a manner of speaking, his teammates felt the same way.

"Any night like this ... this is kind of what you expect every night," Atlanta Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said. "When he doesn't, it's like, 'What happened?' He's a special player."

Upton had his major-league-leading 13th home run among his four hits, and he drove in two runs and scored two in the Braves' 10-1 victory over Arizona. It was his first game against the Diamondbacks since a Jan. 24 trade to Atlanta.

"It's a great park to hit in," said Upton, who spent his first six seasons in Arizona and still makes his home in the Valley. "Good batter's eye. You see the ball well. Obviously, it is a good place to see the ball and hit it."

His two-run homer in the fifth off Wade Miley (3-2) was measured at 440 feet and gave Atlanta a 5-1 lead. The blast came after brother B.J. Upton was hit by a pitch in the left shoulder leading off the inning, causing an injury that later forced B.J. Upton to leave the game. Justin Upton said that provided no extra motivation.

"I've been searching for this swing the month of May. To square one up and for it to carry was nice," said Justin Upton, whose homer broke a 42 at-bat drought without one.

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said, "It looks like he flattened his bat out. He is very quick now. The home run he hit was a changeup out over the middle of the plate. Not where you want to put that pitch, and as he has been doing this year, he got it."

Upton was greeted with a mixed reaction when he batted and was heckled when he went to his position in right field.

"That's what I expected," he said. "It was nice (to be back), but this time the fans were yelling at me instead of cheering for me. It was good."

Johnson, also part of the Justin Upton trade, and Brian McCann each homered and had three RBIs for Atlanta, which collected 13 hits, six of them for extra bases. Johnson had three hits and was a triple short of the cycle. His single in the second broke an 0-for-18 slump.

"Tonight was the Justin show," Johnson said. "For me, I've been struggling a little lately. I just wanted to try to get some good pitches to hit."

Paul Goldschmidt hit his 10th homer in the first inning for the D-backs' only run off Mike Minor, and he also doubled.

Minor (5-2) gave up eight hits and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings as NL East leader Atlanta (22-16) broke a three-game losing streak.

Third baseman Martin Prado, the principle piece to come to Arizona in the Justin Upton trade, had a single, a double and a walk. He also committed his first error of the season in Atlanta's three-run fifth off Wade Miley (3-2).

Cody Ross had two hits for the D-backs (21-18), who lost their third straight.

"I just made bad pitches," said Miley, who gave up seven runs (six earned) in five-plus innings. "Early in the game I was hitting spots and pitching down in the zone, but then just like that, I couldn't get it down anymore. I left pitches up, and they capitalized."

Prado made a throwing error and McCann walked to open the Braves' fifth, and they advanced on Miley's wild pitch before Dan Uggla hit a sacrifice fly. Johnson followed with his third homer of the season to make it 3-1.

NOTES: Atlanta RHP Brandon Beachy is scheduled to pitch two innings in an extended spring training game Tuesday before starting on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett that is expected to include six or seven starts, manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Beachy is recovering from Tommy John surgery performed last June 12. ... Arizona 2B Aaron Hill (left hand) underwent a CT scan on Monday, and the results were "inconclusive. It's not probably as good a news as we hoped," Gibson said. Hill has been on the disabled list since April 15. ... Atlanta RF Jason Heyward (appendectomy) is not expected to join the team in the three-game series in Arizona. Heyward has begun a rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett, but he has only been a DH and has not played the outfield. ... Atlanta C/OF Evan Gattis (20) and Arizona CF A.J. Pollock (15) entered the game ranked first and second among rookies in RBIs this season. Neither drove in a run Monday.
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