ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman fueled an early power barrage against Cole Hamels, and Justin Upton introduced himself to his new hometown crowd with one of the three homers the Braves drilled on the way to opening this season with Monday night's 7-5 win over the Phillies at Turner Field.
With a raucous overflow crowd celebrating Opening Day, the Braves legitimized some of the hype that has built since they reconstructed their lineup with the offseason additions of the Upton brothers. Freeman drilled a two-run home run off Hamels in the first inning, and Dan Uggla shook off a rough spring season by opening the bottom of the second inning with a towering shot over the left-field wall. Upton got into the act with a line-drive shot that easily cleared the left-center-field wall with one out in the fifth inning.
Upton's first home run for the Braves proved to be big as the Phillies kept things interesting in the late innings. While the home runs provided the early highlights, the Braves scored their decisive runs in the sixth inning with assistance from a couple of offseason additions that did not generate as much hype as the Upton brothers.
After Uggla drew a walk to begin the bottom of the sixth against Chad Durbin, Chris Johnson highlighted his two-hit Atlanta debut with a double. Gerald Laird followed with an RBI single to left-center field. Johnson then alertly raced to the plate as the Phillies turned a double play on Reed Johnson's grounder to left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst.
The three home runs surrendered by Hamels helped the Braves to overcome the fifth-inning struggles endured by Tim Hudson, who allowed three runs and lasted just 4 1/3 innings. The Phillies kept things interesting by scoring a run against Eric O'Flaherty in the seventh inning and one more against Jordan Walden in the eighth.
Somewhat of a forgotten figure in a lineup that includes Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers, Freeman provided a reminder of his power potential by hitting his two-run, first-inning home run to the back of the Braves' bullpen located beyond the right-center-field wall. The 23-year-old first baseman added a third-inning RBI single on the way to a three-hit season debut.
Chase Utley's fourth-inning leadoff homer accounted for the only damage Hudson had incurred before Hamels fueled Philadelphia's two-run fifth with a single through the left side. Ben Revere followed with an 11-pitch walk that seemed to deflate Hudson, who exited when Jimmy Rollins and Utley followed with consecutive singles.
After Utley's two-run single brought the Phillies to within 4-3 and put runners at second and third base, the Braves replaced Hudson with left-handed reliever Luis Avilan, who promptly struck out Ryan Howard. Avilan intentionally walked Michael Young to load the bases and face left-hander Dominic Brown, who grounded out to end the inning.
Eric O'Flaherty and Jordan Walden gave up single runs in relief but closer Craig Kimbrel set the Phillies down in order for the save.
Following an off-day Tuesday, the teams return to action Wednesday night with Roy Halladay facing Paul Maholm.
--- Source: MLB.com