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Uptons power Braves to rout of Rockies

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- In the offseason, the Atlanta Braves signed B.J. Upton as a free agent and traded for Justin Upton. They are playing side-by-side in the outfield, hitting back-to-back in the lineup and on consecutive pitches Tuesday night, they slugged their way into history.

They completed a very rare feat, indeed something that had been accomplished just once before in major league history, some 75 years ago.

The Upton brothers hit back-to-back homers as the Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 10-2 to sweep a day-night doubleheader and continue their lopsided dominance of the Rockies. The only other set of brothers in major league history to hit back-to-back homers were Big Poison and Little Poison as Hall of Famers Paul and Lloyd Waner were known. The Waners hit back-to-back homers for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 15, 1938.

Justin Upton said he and his brother had never hit back-to-back homers at any level before their blink-of-an-eye, two-pitch sequence against Jon Garland in the fifth put the Braves ahead 5-1.

"It's always cool when you can see him have success before you, and you go up and do the same thing," Justin Upton said. "It was definitely cool."

Juan Francisco hit a two-run homer, the fourth off Garland, who had allowed just one homer in 19 innings in his first three starts and gave up 10 hits and six runs in six innings.

"A lot of those pitches were up, didn't move, walking guys in front of hits," said Garland, whose four walks were one more than in his previous three starts combined. "Just a bad night overall. Sometimes you miss and get away with it, and tonight I didn't."

The Braves can strike often and strike quick. Their three homers in two innings in the nightcap exceeded their rapid-fire slugging in the opener of the twinbill, when they hit three homers in a four-inning span while winning 4-3.

The six homers the Braves hit in the doubleheader are equal to the Miami Marlins' total in 21 games this season. The Braves lead the majors with 35 homers in 20 games.

The temperature when Garland threw his first pitch was 30 degrees, seven degrees warmer than it was at the start of the first game. The temperature never rose above freezing all day.

"It made it a little bit tougher to grip my pitches," Garland said, "but I'm not going to sit here and say that's the reason I missed my pitches. I couldn't feel my feet after the second inning, and that's no dang fun. But you know what, you got to bear down. Both teams are playing in the same climate. You got to bear down and go out there and compete. It was a tough one for us today."

The beneficiary of the second-game barrage was Julio Teheran, who made his eighth career start and 11th appearance and took the mound 0-0 with a 7.31 ERA in three starts this season. Facing the Rockies for the first time, Teheran gave up one run and eight hits -- all singles -- in seven innings with no walks and three strikeouts. Teheran was extremely efficient, throwing 70 of his 90 pitches for strikes.

"One thing he did really, really well was every time we scored a run, he got a shut-down inning and got us back in the dugout so we could keep swinging the bats," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's nice to see. This is not an easy place to pitch with the altitude and the cold, but he did a nice job."

The doubleheader sweep improved the Braves' record to a major league-best 15-5 and came after they lost their final three games at Pittsburgh. They are 14-3 against the Rockies since the beginning of 2011, and they have hit 28 homers in those games to 10 for the Rockies. The Braves lead the all-time series with the Rockies 106-60.

The Braves blew the second game open with a four-run eighth that included run-scoring doubles from Justin Upton and Francisco off Josh Outman and a two-run single by Gerald Laird off Wilton Lopez.

Justin Upton homered in each game of the doubleheader, giving him 11 for the season and the most home runs in April in Atlanta history. He surpassed Andres Galarraga (1998 and 2000) and Ryan Klesko (1996), both of whom hit 10 home runs in April.

In addition to his major-league leading 11 homers, Juston Upton is hitting .307 with 16 RBIs, 18 runs scored, a .391 on-base percentage and a .813 slugging percentage.

"Just trying to be part of a team that was already good," said Justin Upton, who was acquired from Arizona in a seven-player trade Jan. 24. "I can't (put) a thumb on why I've hit the way I have."

It was the second time this season the Braves have hit back-to-back homers, the third time the Uptons have homered in the same game and the 27th time in major league history that brothers have homered in the same game.

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