Braves-Marlins Preview

The Associated Press

While the Atlanta Braves are off to their best start in six years, the Miami Marlins are mired in their worst in seven.

The visiting Braves try for a fifth consecutive victory Tuesday night while looking to continue their recent success over the Marlins, who hope to avoid a fourth straight defeat.

Justin Upton went 4 for 4 and hit his sixth home run while Paul Maholm allowed one hit and struck out seven over seven innings of Atlanta's 2-0 win at Miami on Monday.

The Braves (6-1) are off to their best start since going 7-1 in 2007. They've also won five in a row and 15 of 18 over the Marlins (1-6), who have not started this bad since 2006.

While his brother B.J. is 3 for 25 (.120) with 10 strikeouts this season, Justin Upton is batting .423 (11 for 29) and has eight RBIs.

"You definitely notice it,'' Justin Upton said of his own impressive start with his new team. "You can't ignore it. You try not to get too high on what's happening.''

He's batting .425 with four homers and 17 RBIs in his last 22 games against the Marlins.

Scheduled Atlanta starter Kris Medlen has a tough task following up Maholm on Tuesday.

The Braves won 23 straight games Medlen started until he yielded five runs - two earned - in 6 1-3 innings of their 6-3 loss to St. Louis in last season's wild-card game. In his first start of 2013, the right-hander allowed two runs, six hits and walked four in five innings of a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday.

"His last two innings of work might have been the best two innings he's thrown since last year,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "His delivery got better as the game went on. For him just to give up two runs, he did a nice job. Because very easily that game could have been out of hand right from the very beginning and he kept us in the ballgame.''

Since breaking into the majors in 2009, Medlen is 15-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 32 starts for the Braves. They are 26-6 in those games.

He went 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts against the Marlins last season.

Placido Polanco and catcher Rob Brantly combined for Miami's two hits in their home opener Monday. The Marlins, whose 609 runs were the second-fewest in the majors in 2012, have scored 14 and been shut out three times already this season.

"When you don't score, it puts a lot of pressure on the pitching,'' said Marlins manager Mike Redmond, whose team is batting .170 (9 for 53) with runners in scoring position. "We can't panic. It's going to turn. It always does.''

Talented young Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton set career highs for batting average (.290) and home runs (37) last season, but is 4 for 23 (.174) with 11 strikeouts, no homers and no RBIs in 2013.

He's 1 for 5 with a home run against Medlen.

Redmond hands the ball to Wade LeBlanc, who allowed three runs and five hits in five innings of a 6-1 loss at Washington on Thursday.

The left-hander is 0-2 with a 5.65 ERA in three starts versus Atlanta. However, Justin Upton is 2 for 16 against him.

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