MIAMI (AP) — Justin Upton went 4 for 4, including his sixth home run, and Paul Maholm allowed one hit in seven sharp innings to help the Atlanta Braves spoil the Miami Marlins’ home opener Monday by winning 2-0.
The Braves earned their fourth consecutive victory and improved to 6-1, their best start since 2007. The Marlins lost their third game in a row and fell to 1-6, their worst start since 2006.
Announced attendance was 34,439, with thousands of empty seats and many tickets sold at discounted prices. Some fans pledged to stay away this season because they’re angry that owner Jeffrey Loria reverted to a frugal payroll only a year after the team opened a new ballpark built mostly with taxpayer money.
A fan who only identified himself as Mark from Hollywood summed it up.
“I love my Marlins,” he said. “But I loathe my owner. ”
One fan said he only came to the game because he got a free ticket. He didn’t want to spend money and support Loria.
The Marlins unpopular owner was in the building but did not talk to the press, or sit in his normal seats behind home plate.
“He’s probably worried that he will get booed,” said Marlins fan Keith Hubbell from Deerfield Beach.
Still, fans did fill up a good bit of the ballpark, a sign that some are willing to let bygones be bygones.
“I been down in Miami my whole life, and I’m glad we have the Marlins, and I hope more fans can support the team, ” said Hubbell.
A handful of spectators wore homemade T-shirts disparaging Loria, a few others had bags over their heads, and many wore jerseys of Marlins traded in the past year, including Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson.
The only holdover from the Marlins’ opener a year ago who was in the lineup was Giancarlo Stanton, who went 0 for 1 with three walks to drop his average to .174.
The team’s newcomers couldn’t do much against Maholm (2-0), who remained unscored upon this season in 12 2-3 innings over two starts. He struck out seven and walked three.
Craig Kimbrel needed 28 pitches to get through the ninth. He struck out Adeiny Hechavarria with two on to complete the two-hitter for his third save.
Upton singled in the first, doubled in the fourth and homered in the sixth. With a chance at the cycle he singled in the eighth, which dropped his slugging percentage to 1.192 but raised his batting average to .423.
Upton, who came into the game tied for the major league lead in homers, hit a solo shot for a 2-0 lead against Kevin Slowey (0-2). Atlanta also scored in the fourth when Upton doubled, went to third on a flyout and came home on Dan Uggla’s groundout.
The Braves, who lead the NL East, started a stretch that includes 16 of 18 games on the road.
Atlanta struck out only six times, an improvement, but slumping B.J. Upton went 0 for 5 and Jason Heyward was 0 for 4. B.J. Upton is batting .120 and Heyward .083.
Slowey, who was seeking his first victory since 2010, allowed two runs in seven innings. Marlins starters are 1-4 despite an ERA of 2.50.
The Marlins went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position and are batting .170 in those situations. The lone hit off Maholm was a single by Placido Polanco in the third inning.
Atlanta went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)