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Upton helps Braves rout Phillies in doubleheader opener

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The Canadian Press
6/28/2014 6:28:58 PM
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Braves took advantage of a little help from their opposition.

Justin Upton had two hits and three RBIs, and the Atlanta Braves were helped by two straight Ryan Howard errors in a 10-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.

Tommy La Stella hit a three-run triple and Chris Johnson drove in two runs for the Braves, who have won four of five.

Atlanta trailed 2-0 before tying it in the fourth on two unearned runs.

"You make an error and give teams extra opportunities, and sometimes they'll make you pay for it," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We only got two runs out of those errors, but it got us back in the game. You have to take advantage of those. If you give opportunities to good baseball teams, they're going to get you."

Tony Gwynn Jr. and Ben Revere had a pair of hits for the slumping Phillies, who have lost six of eight. Philadelphia scored three runs or less for the 40th time, dropping to 7-33 in those contests. The Phillies also fell to 18-25 at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, where they entered Saturday batting .229 as a team.

While the offence didn't shine, it was the defence that really let Philadelphia down this time.

Howard made two costly errors in the fourth inning, resulting in two unearned runs that allowed the Braves to tie the game at 2. Freddie Freeman's hard-hit grounder went through Howard's legs and the error put runners on second and third.

"It was a possible double-play ball and we would've been out of the inning," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It changed the whole game."

The next batter, Upton, hit a medium grounder to first but reached safely when Howard bobbled and then lost control of the ball.

Simmons scored on that error and Freeman, who went to third on the play, then reached on Jason Heyward's groundout to first. Fans gave a sarcastic cheer when Howard made the putout of Heyward.

"We have to tighten up on the defensive end," Sandberg said.

Atlanta then went ahead in the sixth on Upton's two-run double off the wall in left.

The teams were scheduled to play the nightcap at 7:15, with Atlanta right-hander David Hale (3-2, 2.72) facing Phillies right-hander Sean O'Sullivan, who is making his 2014 debut after being called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the spot start.

Ervin Santana (6-5) snapped a four-game winless streak after allowing two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk in 6 2/3 innings. Santana had lost his last three starts with a 5.89 ERA in those outings. But he was strong after the first two innings against the Phillies, retiring nine straight during one stretch and surrendering just three hits after the second inning.

"It was a great effort," Gonzalez said. "We were looking for that kind of outing to be able to save the bullpen."

Said Santana, "In the first inning, a couple pitches were up. After that, I just made a good adjustment and kept the ball down for the most part."

Roberto Hernandez (3-7) didn't allow a hit through 3 1-3 innings and ended up giving up just three hits in seven innings with two strikeouts and three walks. Two of the four runs he allowed were unearned.

"His pitching was better than his line," Sandberg said. "The defence let him down in the fourth inning, but he hung in there and pitched pretty well."

The Braves broke the game open in the eighth when they scored five runs off Antonio Bastardo, snapping an 11 1-3 inning scoreless streak for the Philadelphia bullpen. La Stella had the big blow, a bases-clearing triple that pushed the Atlanta lead to 8-2. It was the first career triple for the rookie La Stella, who had two hits in his last 30 at-bats prior to the hit.

The Phillies jumped in front 2-0. Gwynn Jr. snapped an 0-for-23 skid by tripling with one out in the first and scored on Howard's single to left. It was Gwynn's first hit since the June 16 death of his Hall of Fame father. Hernandez helped himself in the second inning when he recorded his first career RBI by singling home Koyie Hill.

Notes: Hill, a catcher, was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley Friday after Carlos Ruiz was placed on the 7-day DL with concussion-like symptoms. Philadelphia's regular backup catcher, Will Nieves, has been on the DL since June 19 with a right quad strain. . Atlanta C Evan Gattis, who left due to back spasms after striking out in the first inning on Friday night, didn't play. His replacement, Gerald Laird, went 0-for-3. . Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason, in town for the NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center Friday and Saturday, was in attendance. . Following the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, the Phillies and Braves will conclude their four-game series at 1:35 Sunday afternoon with Atlanta RHP Aaron Harang (6-6, 3.78) facing Philadelphia RHP David Buchanan (4-3, 4.79).

Justin Upton (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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