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Ross, Marlins sweep Braves with 6-2 win
Atlanta Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami connects for a base hit in the second inning Thursday against the Florida Marlins in Atlanta. - photo by John Bazemore

ATLANTA — Cody Ross and his Florida Marlins teammates aren't shocked to have the best record in the majors.

The real surprise, he said, was sweeping three games in Atlanta for the first time.

Ross hit a three-run homer and the Marlins beat the Braves 6-2 on Thursday, as Florida improved to 8-1 for the first time since 1997. Ross finished with three hits and four RBIs after beginning the day with a .115 average.

"Nobody in here is surprised," Ross said of the Marlins' hot start. "We feel like we're a good team. There are a lot of skeptics who say it's early. We have to have confidence and never let down."

The Marlins outscored the Braves 21-7 in the series. Florida had never swept a series of more than two games in Atlanta, and the last time that happened was May 13-14, 1997.

"We've come through here a lot of times, and you'd think there would have been a sweep," Ross said. "But the Braves are always a good team. ... It's better to be on the other side, instead of what it has been here in other years."

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said his club is winning with balance.

"We're playing well," Gonzalez said. "The bullpen is pitching well. We're getting good starting pitching and timely hitting."
Anibal Sanchez (1-0) gave up eight hits and two runs in six innings to give Kenshin Kawakami his first loss, despite walking three batters.

"I didn't have good command, but I got good defense," Sanchez said.

Kawakami (1-1) allowed five hits and five runs, four earned, in six innings.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said Kawakami was "as good as he could possibly be" but made two mistakes — the pitch too far over the plate that Ross hit for a home run and a hanging splitter that Jeremy Hermida hit for a run-scoring triple in the sixth.

Another mistake also hurt Kawakami. The Braves blew a chance at a double play when Kelly Johnson dropped a throw from shortstop Yunel Escobar at second base in the second inning for an error, leaving the Marlins with runners on first and second. Ross hit his three-run homer one out later.

"It's part of baseball," Kawakami said through an interpreter. "It's my fault really for giving up the home run right after that error."
Johnson said he lost the throw from Escobar in the sun.

"I knew, obviously, it was coming at me," Johnson said. "I put my glove where I thought it was going. I just couldn't tell when it was going to get to me."

The Braves were without two of their top hitters. Chipper Jones, normally the No. 3 hitter, missed his second straight game with a bruised left thumb and cleanup hitter Brian McCann was given his first break from the starting lineup this season. He reached on a fielder's choice as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

Escobar left the game after five innings with a strained abdominal muscle. He was listed as day to day.

Atlanta placed reliever Jorge Campillo on the 15-day disabled list with a sore shoulder after he gave up two hits and one run in the ninth.

Ross hit a fastball from Kawakami about 20 rows deep into the left-field seats in the second inning to drive in Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla for a 3-0 lead. The deep shot ended Florida's four-game streak without a homer and ended the power drought for Ross to start the season.

"It's good to get it out of the way," he said.

The Braves scored one run off Sanchez in the third. Garret Anderson, filling in for McCann as the cleanup hitter, hit his first of two doubles and scored on a single by Jeff Francoeur.

Anderson added his second double and again scored on a single by Francoeur in the fifth.

Uggla walked in the sixth and scored on Hermida's triple to center. Ross drove in Hermida with a sacrifice fly.

Pinch-hitter Ross Gload led off the ninth with a triple off Campillo, and Alfredo Amezaga drove in Gload with a single.

Notes: Baserunners are 0-for-3 in stolen-base attempts against the Marlins after Johnson was thrown out at second base by Ronny Paulino in the fourth inning. Florida is the only team in the majors that has not allowed a steal. ... Braves C David Ross started and was the No. 8 hitter after being activated from the 15-day disabled list. C Clint Sammons was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Kawakami was 2-for-2 for his first two major league hits. ... Right-hander James Parr will be recalled from Gwinnett to replace Campillo. ... Rookie CF Jordan Schafer was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, leaving him 1-for-11 in the series.

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