MIAMI — Before Giancarlo Stanton became Miami’s slugger du jour, Dan Uggla was good for 30-plus homers a year for the Marlins. On Tuesday, he reminded everyone in South Florida what kind of damage he could do.
Uggla had four hits, two home runs and five RBIs, and Tim Hudson pitched a five-hit complete game as the Braves rolled to an 11-0 rout in their first game at new Marlins Park.
The Braves scored eight runs in the last three innings, including Uggla’s two-run single in the four-run seventh and his two-run homer in the four-run ninth. His ninth-inning homer was the 200th of his career and made it his 15th multi-homer game.
“Uggla was frickin’ Superman out there tonight,” said Hudson, who threw 108 pitches and allowed five singles and three walks in his 25th career complete game and 13th shutout.
Hudson also chipped in with a single, a sacrifice fly and two RBIs.
Uggla’s mammoth ninth-inning homer was conservatively estimated at 432 feet and caromed off a sun located more than halfway up a garish pop-art sculpture that stands beyond center field at the colorful retractable-roof ballpark.
“They came back and told me I hit the sun,” Uggla said. “That’s cool…. This is where I started my career. To get my 200th here is awesome. To hit it here or Atlanta would’ve been awesome.”
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said, “This kid is very powerful. I’m not surprised he hit two home runs in a game. He did it before, I guess.”
Uggla, Hudson (4-2) and the Braves helped hand Miami its 10th loss in 33 games.
“Danny and Huddy were outstanding today,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who was Uggla’s manager for 3-1/2 seasons with the Marlins. “Those two guys by themselves did some damage, and then Simmons did a nice job too. Swung the bat well and made some nice plays defensively.”
The fourth-place Braves pulled to within one game of the Marlins in the tight National League East standings. The Marlins started the day tied with Washington atop the division.
Until Uggla took over in the late innings, the night had belonged to Hudson and also to Simmons, who had three hits and his first three RBIs in his third major league game.
Simmons sat in the visitors’ clubhouse Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before the game, discussing his major league debut over the weekend at Washington as if it had been about as nerve-racking as ordering coffee.
“I felt good,” said Simmons. “I won’t lie. I was expecting to be a little more nervous, but the guys made it easy for me.”
On Tuesday, he helped make things easier for the guys, specifically Hudson, who cited his and the entire team’s defense.
“It was a fun game,” Hudson said. “The guys came out and put together some great at-bats. They were making some great plays behind me. It was one of those things where they were hitting them to our guys. I had some luck on my side for a change. It was definitely a team effort all the way around.
“I didn’t feel particularly great out there, but those guys hit ‘em where we were. They laced some balls right at our guys. It’s nice to have some luck on my side. The last couple of outings there was a little bit of tough luck.”
It was Uggla who did the heavy lifting as the night wore on.
Under the closed roof of the spacious new park, the Braves dealt Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez (3-4) his worst beating of the season and his sixth consecutive loss against the Braves. The right-hander gave up eight hits and seven runs in 6 2/3 innings and fell to 4-11 in 17 starts against the Braves, including 0-6 with a 6.81 ERA in his past seven starts against them.
The Braves held a 3-0 lead through six innings against a Marlins team that led the majors with 21 come-from-behind wins (out of its 31 total wins) before Tuesday. But any hopes of a comeback were quashed when the Braves batted around in a four-run seventh inning, with Simmons’ RBI triple driving in the first run of the inning and Uggla’s two-out single driving in the last two.
Hudson also had a sacrifice fly in the inning, and Sanchez was replaced after consecutive singles by Michael Bourn (on a 10-pitch at-bat) and Martin Prado.
Simmons drove a ball to the left-center gap to score Jason Heyward, who led off the inning with a walk. Heyward had two singles and a double for only his second multi-hit game in his past 40.
Uggla and Simmons drove in the Braves’ runs in a two-run fourth inning that put them ahead 3-0. Uggla hit his team-high ninth homer on a full-count, capping an eight-pitch at-bat with two outs. He has seven homers and 20 RBIs in 21 games against the Marlins since they traded him to the Braves after the 2010 season.
“It just so happens I’ve caught a couple on the barrel,” Uggla said. “These [Marlins pitchers], even when I was playing behind them I was like, man, I’m glad I don’t have to face these guys on a regular basis. But now I do, and it’s no fun. You’ve really got to get focused on and be on your ‘A’ game.”
Freeman and Heyward followed with singles before Simmons singled to left field for his first RBI, clapping after he went to second on the throw. He’s provided a spark with his energy and smooth fielding, and Tuesday with his bat.
“He’s great, man,” Hudson said of Simmons’ defense. “I think everybody knew that from spring training. I think it was one of those things where they wanted to let him get a little more experience and get some at-bats under his belt, then bring him up here.
“It’s fun. Me being a sinker baller I love to see guys throw that leather around. He looks really smooth out there. He’s got a lot of range. He looks very confident in the field. For him to be such a young guy, that’s good to see.”