Atlanta’s Justin Upton is congratulated by teammates after hitting his sixth homer of the season in Monday’s 2-0 win.
MIAMI — Left-hander Paul Maholm continued his stellar pitching, and Justin Upton provided much of the offense as the Atlanta Braves spoiled the Miami Marlins’ home opener, taking a 2-0 win at Marlins Park on Monday night.
The Braves, leading the NL East, improved to 6-1 by dominating the division’s last-place team. Maholm and two relievers held Miami to two hits.
There were 34,439 spectators in attendance, although the crowd counts are expected to shrink rapidly for the Marlins (1-6) and their disillusioned fan base.
Upton went 4-for-4, raising his average to .423. He hit two singles, a double and a homer, knocking in both of the Braves’ runs. He also made a stellar over-the-shoulder grab with a runner on in the ninth.
Clearly, Upton is already starting to justify Atlanta’s move to acquire him in the offseason from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Maholm, who was the Pirates’ first-round pick in 2003, was acquired from the Cubs last summer for two pitching prospects. His career ERA was 4.24 entering Monday night, but he has been solid for Atlanta.
He had a 3.54 ERA for Atlanta last season and has been really good this year. His ERA is 0.00 after 12 2/3 innings.
On Monday, he tossed seven shutout innings and retired all three batters faced in four of those frames. Maholm (2-0) allowed one hit, three walks and threw an efficient 98 pitches.
He mixed things up, offering up a first-pitch strike to only 12 of the 26 batters he faced -- but it worked. He also finished strong, retiring the last seven Marlins he encountered.
Eric O’Flaherty pitched a perfect eighth inning for Atlanta. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth and earned his third save, although he walked Giancarlo Stanton to open the inning, then exhaled when Upton caught Justin Ruggiano’s drive to left. Rob Brantly followed with a two-out single, but Adeiny Hechavarria struck out to end the game.
Braves starter Kevin Slowey (0-2) was pretty good, too, except that he couldn’t get Upton out. Slowey allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings.
Upton led off the fourth inning with a double to the right field corner, advanced to third on a long fly out by Evan Gattis and scored the game’s first run on Dan Uggla’s grounder to shortstop. The Marlins were playing their infield back, and Uggla hit a 1-2 pitch to earn his third RBI of the season.
Two innings later, Upton slugged a solo homer deep to left field, his sixth of the season.
NOTES: Chris Johnson, who had been part of the Braves’ platoon at third with Juan Francisco, is the team’s new first baseman -- for the moment, at least. Johnson, who played only six games at first last season, takes over for Freddie Freeman, who was placed on the disabled list Sunday due to an oblique injury. … Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez, who made a brilliant major league debut Sunday, has a chance to become the fourth pitcher since 1970 to make the jump from Class A and pitch 100 innings in his rookie season.