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Thursday July 30th, 2015 6:11AM

Gattis homers as Braves top Marlins 3-1

By The Associated Press
UPITER, Fla. -- Evan Gattis hit his first homer of spring training, a fourth-inning solo drive Wednesday as an Atlanta Braves' split squad beat the Miami Marlins 3-1.

Gattis batted .368 with six homers during spring training last year - a fast start he attributed to playing winter ball. He skipped winter ball this offseason.

Now Gattis feels like he's starting to find his groove. He went 1 for 3 and raised his average to .226.

"That's what he can do for us swing the bat and put one in the seats real quick," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Henderson Alvarez allowed one run and five hits in 3 2-3 innings, giving up the home run on a sinker. In his first start of spring training, Alvarez retired nine straight batters against St. Louis on Friday. That was his first game action since pitching a no-hitter on the final day last season.

B.J. Upton's hit was the first off Alvarez since Cameron Rupp's seventh-inning single for Philadelphia on Sept. 24.

"I wasn't focused on not allowing another hit, I was just more focused about getting my work in and continuing to prepare for opening day," Alvarez said through an interpeter.

In his second appearance for the Marlins, Carlos Marmol allowed three hits in 1 1-3 scoreless innings. He induced an inning-ending, double-play grounder from Jordan Schafer in the fifth after Ramiro Pena reached on an error by second baseman Derek Dietrich.

Atlanta scored two unearned runs off Steve Cishek in the eighth. Rob Brantly homered off Cody Martin with two outs in the ninth.

STARTING TIME

Atlanta: Yunesky Maya allowed three hits in three scoreless innings. The 32-year-old right-hander is likely to begin the season in the minors.

"He's a guy we are looking for, if he does not break camp with us to go to Atlanta, maybe somewhere down in the middle of the season he can help us," Gonzalez said.

Miami: Alvarez threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of 15 batters.

"I try to throw strikes at the beginning, try to let they batter swing, try to get through the inning quick," Alvarez said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Marlins second baseman Rafael Furcal (hamstring) and utility man Jeff Baker (quadriceps) should return to game action soon.

"Both are feeling much better," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "They are going to do some light activity today and if everything goes well, go through all baseball activity tomorrow. I wouldn't rule out them playing in the next couple days."

PITCHING HELP

After watching starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy go down with injuries this spring, Atlanta agreed to a $14.1 million, one-year contract with free agent Ervin Santana.

Santana threw a bullpen at the Braves spring training complex on Wednesday, which Gonzalez said went well. Despite his late entrance to camp, Santana could be ready for the start of the season.

"It will be close," Gonzalez said. "We are kind of keeping our fingers crossed that we can get him enough innings where he can start for us."

CHECK THE RUNNER

Alvarez and Maya both picked runners off first in first inning. Maya was also charged with a balk later in the frame.
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