Justin Upton homers again and Mike Minor shines as Braves top Cubs 4-1

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

So far, so good for the Justin Upton trade, as the Atlanta left fielder homered for the third time in four games as the Braves topped the Cubs 4-1 Friday night at Turner Field.

Atlanta's biggest offseason acquisition homered in the bottom of the first against Chicago's Scott Feldman to give the Braves an early 1-0 lead.

In the third inning, Andrelton Simmons walked, stole second base, and advanced to third base on a wild pitch before Upton hit a sacrifice fly to right field that brought in Simmons to make it a 2-0 game. It took the Cubs until the fifth inning to tally any major damage against Atlanta starter Mike Minor, as right fielder Scott Hairston launched a homer to left field that cut Atlanta's lead to 2-1.

It didn't take Atlanta long to respond, as Jason Heyward walked and stole second base to begin the bottom of the fifth. Heyward advanced to third on a groundout, then the struggling B.J. Upton was hit by a pitch and stole second to put runners on second and third against Feldman. A Dan Uggla walk loaded the bases for Juan Francisco, who lined a single to left that drove in Heyward and Upton to make it a 4-1 game.

Minor was fantastic for the Braves on Friday, allowing just five hits and the single earned run in 7.1 innings of work. Minor coaxed a lot of fly balls early, but ended with a 5-5 ground ball to fly ball ratio. The left-hander struck out seven and walked none in his first outing of 2013.

In his last 16 starts, the Vanderbilt graduate has just a 2.05 ERA and has come into his own after a great second half of the 2012 season.

Eric O'Flaherty recorded a strikeout and in his .2 innings of work to finish off the eighth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel struck out one batter among his three outs in the ninth to record his second save of the season.

Tomorrow's game between Carlos Villanueva and Julio Teheran is set for 7:10 pm ET in Atlanta.

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