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Upton brothers both homer in ninth to lift Braves over Cubs

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- With their father watching in the stands, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton hit solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to spark the Atlanta Braves to a dramatic 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field.

Trailing 5-4 entering the ninth, B.J. Upton led off with a long homer to left-center off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. Then, with one out, Justin Upton won the game with a long homer to center field. It was the 25th time in major-league history that brothers have homered in the same game as teammates.

"I've never seen anything like that in my life," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I'm just glad I'm a part of that."

It was the first homer of the season for B.J. Upton, who ended an 0-for-16 start with a single in his previous at-bat. It was the fifth homer of the season and second of the night for Justin Upton, who also hit a solo homer to center field in the first inning.

"In my mind, this is No. 1," Justin said. "It was exhilarating out there. We had a great time with it."

B.J. said, "We've homered on the same day a few times, but this is probably No. 1 on the list. We never dreamed of being on the same team, much less coming out and having a night like this."

The comeback made a winner of reliever Eric O'Flaherty (1-0), who pitched a scoreless ninth inning. Marmol (0-1) took the loss and saw his ERA balloon to 27.00.

The Cubs seemed to have things in hand when they took a 5-1 lead into the eighth inning. But the Braves drew close by scoring three runs against reliever Kyuji Fujikawa to make it 5-4. Freddie Freeman drove in a run with a sharp single and Ramiro Pena got his first hit as a Brave to knock in a two runs.

That set up the ninth-inning fireworks from the Uptons.

"We had some great at-bats and got some strikes to hit," said Jason Heyward, who made an out between the Upton home runs. "We were able to lock in, take what they gave us and swing away. In the ninth inning our 1-2-3 (hitters) is a lot of thunder to go through."

The Cubs wasted a chance to put the game away in the eighth inning when they loaded the bases and failed to score. The problem was amplified by Marmol, who had 20 saves last year but has not pitched a scoreless inning in three appearances. His inability to close the game means manager Dale Sveum said he may look for other options in the ninth inning.

"We're definitely going to think about it," Sveum said. "Fujikawa struggled, too. (Shawn) Camp and (James) Russell have been effective when they've been pitching, but they haven't had to do the three-out thing."

The comeback ruined a solid debut from Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva, who gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings and left with a 5-1 lead. Villanueva, an offseason free-agent acquisition, kept the Braves off balance with his off-speed pitches.

"He was brilliant," Sveum said. "He was able to pitch to the game plan."

Gonzalez said, "He gave us fits. He was changing speeds and flipping that curveball up there."

Chicago touched Atlanta rookie starter Julio Teheran for five runs in five innings on eight hits, two of them homers. Anthony Rizzo hit his second, the first since his first swing on Opening Day, and Luis Valbuena hit his first. It was the most runs the Cubs have scored in a game this season, but they left 12 runners on base and were just 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

"It could have been a lot more," Sveum said. "We struggled with men in scoring position. We could have put the game away."

NOTES: The Braves were without shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who didn't play because of a sprained left thumb suffered while sliding into third base in Friday's game. That meant B.J. Upton moved to the leadoff spot and allowed Ramiro Pena to start his first game. Simmons is expected to be OK for Sunday's series finale. ... Chicago trainers checked on shortstop Starlin Castro after he appeared to get spiked on his glove hand by B.J. Upton on a stolen-base attempt in the first inning. Castro remained in the game. ... When DeJesus doubled to lead off the game, it was the first time the team's leadoff hitter had reached base, ending an 0-for-13 streak by the starters. ... Left-hander Sean Gilmartin, Atlanta's No. 1 draft choice from 2011, won the season opener for Class AAA Gwinnett. Gilmartin gave up one run and struck out four in five innings in a 5-4 win over Charlotte.
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