Braves hope ‘J-Up’ back on right track
Jun 26, 2014 | 319 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Atlanta Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella dives over Houston Astros base runner George Springer after throwing to first for a double play during action between the Braves and Astros in Houston.
Atlanta Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella dives over Houston Astros base runner George Springer after throwing to first for a double play during action between the Braves and Astros in Houston.
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HOUSTON (AP) — After a tough June where Justin Upton has hit under .200, the Atlanta Braves hope the last two games are an indication that he’ll get back to where he was earlier this season.

Upton homered for the second straight game and drove in three runs and Alex Wood pitched seven scoreless innings to help the Braves to a 4-0 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

“When he gets hot like this it’s really, really something to watch,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Hopefully this is the beginning of one of those big runs that he can give us.”

Upton is hitting just .185 this month, but his average for the season is .272 after a great start to the year.

“I’m seeing the ball and hitting it, that’s about it,” Upton said. “I’ve gotten some good pitches to hit and I’ve put good swings on them.”

Shae Simmons and Juan Jaime finished the three-hitter as the Astros were shut out for the 10th time this season.

The Braves had just two hits when Upton launched his 16th homer, a two-run shot into the bullpen in right-center, to make it 3-0 in the seventh inning. Collin McHugh (4-6) had plunked Jason Heyward to set up things for Upton.

Upton drove in Atlanta’s first run on a sacrifice fly in the second inning. He joked that Wood owed him a treat of some kind for providing most of the offense in the win.

“Just maybe get an ice cream cone or something,” Upton said with a laugh. “They’ve got some good ice cream in there, at least get a scoop of ice cream.”

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman left in the eighth after being hit by a pitch on what appeared to be his right elbow. He was examined by a doctor and said he was fine and hoped the swelling wasn’t too bad on Thursday so he could play.

Wood (6-6) was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his first start since May 4 after appearing in 11 games out of the bullpen in his last stint with the Braves. He allowed three hits and struck out four with one walk.

“He did a nice job,” Gonzalez said. “Mixed all his pitches ... his breaking ball, his fastball, threw some nice change ups.”

Gonzalez was encouraged by Wood’s performance in filling in for Gavin Floyd, who had surgery this week after breaking a bone in his throwing elbow.

Simmons and Jaime struck out two apiece in a hitless inning apiece.

McHugh struck out nine in his third straight loss.

“He made a mistake to a really good hitter, and he didn’t miss it,” manager Bo Porter said of Upton’s homer. “But outside of that one pitch, I feel like he was in complete control of the game the entire time.”

B.J. Upton doubled and took third on a balk before scoring on a groundout by Tommy La Stella to push Atlanta’s lead to 4-0 in the eighth.

Evan Gattis doubled to start the second and scored on the one-out sacrifice fly by Justin Upton.

McHugh walked a pair in the fourth inning, but the Braves didn’t get another hit until Freeman singled with two outs in the sixth. Freeman was tagged out trying to stretch it into a double to end the inning.

Dexter Fowler hit a leadoff double in the first, and was thrown out at third trying to advance on Jose Altuve’s grounder. Houston didn’t get another runner until rookie Jon Singleton snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a ground-rule double to right-center field with two outs in the fourth.

The ball got lodged under the wall and Singleton was already heading toward home when he was called back to second base.

Wood got right back on track after Singleton’s hit and set down the next five Astros before walking Fowler with one out in the sixth. George Springer singled with two outs to put runners at the corners, but Wood struck out Singleton to escape the jam.

Braves Bits: Braves LHP Ryan Buchter was optioned to Gwinnett to make room for Wood on the roster. ... Atlanta RHP David Carpenter, on the disabled list with a strained right biceps, felt good after throwing a bullpen session on Tuesday and is scheduled to throw another one today.