Now in his third week with the Atlanta Braves, Upton looks around the clubhouse and sees a solid starting rotation, a dependable bullpen and power — lots and lots of power.
Upton, Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla homered in the eighth inning, and Juan Francisco hit a pair of solo shots earlier in the game to help the Braves win their 10th straight with a 6-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
“It’s fun when you can do that,” Upton said. “But our goal is to go out and play good baseball every night, pitch well, play good defense, put together good at-bats and we’ve been able to do that so far.”
Atlanta’s 10-game winning streak is its longest since the club won 15 straight from April 15-May 2, 2000. The Braves are 12-1 and off to their best start since they began the 1994 season 13-1.
Eric O’Flaherty (3-0) allowed one hit and struck out two in a scoreless eighth for the win in relief.
Heyward’s second homer, Upton’s eighth and Uggla’s third were solo shots off Kelvin Herrera (1-1), who gave up three hits, four runs and one walk in two-thirds of an inning. The Braves have outhomered opponents 25-7 and outscored opponents 68-25 for the best run differential in the majors.
“You know the power is there,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez. “That doesn’t surprise you. It’s nice to have that type of arsenal in your club because it’s a game-changer. One swing of the bat and you can put some runs on the board, so that’s always nice.”
Heyward hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth with an opposite-field shot into the left-field seats before Upton and Uggla followed to make it 5-2.
After Francisco walked to chase Herrera, Chris Johnson followed with an RBI single off Aaron Crow that scored pinch-runner Jordan Schafer from second.
Luis Avilan recorded the first out of the ninth before seeming to injure his left hamstring. Avilan limped slowly off the field with the help of trainer Jim Lovell and Gonzalez before getting carted off the field.
Closer Craig Kimbrel finished off the Royals by striking out pinch-hitter Billy Butler, giving up an RBI single to Alex Gordon and retiring Alcides Escobar on a groundout. It was a non-save situation for Kimbrel.
The Royals, who have lost three of four, led 2-1 in the fourth when Salvador Perez reached on Francisco’s throwing error, moved to second on Mike Moustakas’ single and scored on Jeff Francoeur’s RBI single.
Except for Francisco, who hit his second homer to make it 1-0 in the second and his third to tie it at 2 in the seventh, the Braves were unable to do much against Kansas City starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie.
Atlanta’s first five batters were a combined 0-for-14 with one walk and five strikeouts against Guthrie, who gave up five hits, two runs and one walk with six strikeouts in seven innings. Guthrie was trying to win his eighth straight decision dating to last August.
Chris Getz tied it at 1 in the third off Braves starter Kris Medlen. Getz, Kansas City’s No. 8 hitter, homered for the first time in nearly four years.
“It’s too bad we lost,” Getz said. “Too bad (the homer drought) took so long. I saw it on the board while I was hitting, so it definitely added to the satisfaction.”
Medlen, who was trying to improve to 17-3 in his career as a starter, allowed six hits and two runs — one earned — with no walks and five strikeouts in seven innings.
“Any time you can do like our pitching staff did and hold us in the game and keep it close and give us a chance to win it late, that fires us up and makes us want to go out and get a good ballgame for them,” Upton said. “Kris did a great job tonight and kept them (mostly) off the board and gave us a chance.”
NOTES: The Braves held a moment of silence before the game for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings Monday. ... Players, managers and coaches for both teams wore No. 42 on their jerseys to honor Jackie Robinson. ... Atlanta committed three errors. ... The Braves homered five times in a game for the first time since winning last June 20 at the New York Yankees. .. Francisco had the first multihomer game of his career. ... Getz last homered on July 19, 2009, when he played for the Chicago White Sox. He went deep off Guthrie, who was pitching for Baltimore. ... Francoeur, a former Braves RF, played his first game at Turner Field with Kansas City. He had an outfield assist and went 2-for-4 with an RBI.