Heyward, Upton Lead Braves In Tie With Marlins
KISSIMMEE (AP) — Jason Heyward went 3 for 3, Justin Upton drove in three runs with a single and a double, and an Atlanta Braves split squad tied the Miami Marlins 6-6 on Saturday in a game stopped after nine innings.
Heyward, who hit his second homer of the spring Friday against Boston, has hits in five straight at-bats, raising his average to .348.
“I’m taking it day to day, but it’s going good,” the right fielder said. “You want to get your swing as soon as possible.”
Upton came into the game batting just .167, but drove in Heyward with a first-inning double and plated him again on a two-run single in the fourth.
“My timing and swing were good,” said the left fielder, who also hit the ball hard in his other at-bat. “It was something to definitely build on.”
Casey McGehee homered and Rob Brantley had a three-run double and a single for the Marlins.
“The home run was nice obviously, but I was more happy with the approach and my swing,” said McGehee, who played in Japan last year. “Results are secondary right now.”
Braves: Freddy Garcia, who had retired 15 straight batters in his first two starts for the Braves, allowed six runs on six hits and four walks before being pulled after 2 2/3 innings.
Reed Johnson ended Garcia’s perfect streak at 16 batters with a one-out single in the first inning and the 37-year-old right-hander, re-signed by the Braves to a minor league contract, struggled throughout.
Garcia allowed four hits in the second inning and four walks in the third, when Brantley delivered his bases-loaded double. Of his 71 pitches, only 35 were strikes.
Marlins: Jacob Turner, penciled in as the Marlins’ fourth starter, allowed seven hits and two runs over 2 1/3 innings in his second spring start. The two runs off the right-hander came in the first, when the Braves had four hits. Turner, who threw 54 pitches, walked one and didn’t have a strikeout.
“Obviously, I gave up a lot of hits, but I felt like I made some good pitches,” Turner said.
Center fielder B.J. Upton was a late scratch from the Braves lineup because of illness and Jose Constanza was 3 for 5 in his place. Upton, trying to bounce back after hitting .184 in his first season with the Braves, is 4 for 20 with eight strikeouts this spring.
Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird played in his second straight game after missing a week after suffering back spasms. He caught five innings against Boston on Friday and then served as the designated hitter Saturday, going 0 for 3 with a walk.
Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez will pitch a simulated game on Monday in Jupiter rather than make a second straight start against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. The 2013 National League rookie of the year gave up two hits in 3 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday.
“There’s no reason for him to go and face the Mets again,” manager Mike Redmond said. “He’ll get plenty of opportunities to do that in the season.”
Left-hander Brad Hand will start the Grapefruit League game at Port St. Lucie and right-hander Kevin Slowey will pitch in a morning B contest against the Mets.
Marlins center fielder Marcel Ozuna is obviously superstitious, but apparently not about 13. He switched to that number from 48 this spring.
“I get hurt, so I change my number,” said Ozuna, who had his rookie season ended by thumb surgery. “I want more luck.”
Ozuna, who drew three walks against the Braves, is hitting .200.