ATLANTA (AP) - Dan Uggla is starting to feel like a legitimate slugger again.
Uggla hit a three-run homer against his former team for the second straight night, helping Tim Hudson and the Atlanta Braves beat the Florida Marlins 5-1 on Saturday.
``I was just staying positive,' said Uggla, who is heating up after a terrible start this season. ``This is what I'm used to doing. It's one of those things, you get a couple to fall, your confidence kicks in a little bit, you start to feel comfortable, then you're you again, I guess.'
Hudson (10-7) pitched seven crisp innings, allowing one run and six hits. The right-hander improved to 10-4 with a 2.97 ERA in 21 career starts against Florida.
Uggla connected against Anibal Sanchez (6-4) in the third inning, belting his 20th homer to extend his career-best hitting streak to 21 games. He is batting .295 this month, raising his average for the season to .206.
``They've got a lot of talent on that team, which makes them a scary ballclub,' Uggla said. ``The homers that give you the go-ahead (run) or put you up a little bit more are way more significant than a solo shot in a 6-1 ballgame.'
The Marlins have dropped two straight following a five-game winning streak.
``We weren't able to put together some hits and the reason being they did a great job of shutting us down,' Florida manager Jack McKeon said. ``It's tough to come in here, play two ballgames and score one run.'
Winning for the first time in three starts, the 36-year-old Hudson improved to 4-1 with a 2.80 ERA in six starts this month. He wanted to give his teammates a boost with catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jordan Schafer and Nate McLouth landing on the disabled list in the last few days.
``We've had a couple tough blows, a couple guys on the DL,' Hudson said. ``Guys are picking each other up. I think our pitching staff gives us a chance to go out there and win regardless of who's in our lineup and regardless of who's hurt.'
Jonny Venters struck out Florida star Hanley Ramirez to end a bases-loaded threat in the eighth.
Eric Hinske's 10th homer, a solo shot in the eighth, gave the Braves a 5-1 lead and took Craig Kimbrel out of a save situation. Kimbrel got Logan Morrison to ground out, struck out Mike Stanton and retired Mike Cameron on a harmless fly ball to end the game.
Sanchez allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings, extending his career-long winless streak to nine starts. He dropped to 1-3 with a 5.09 ERA over his last 11 starts.
Martin Prado singled in Alex Gonzalez and moved to second on Freddie Freeman's hit before Uggla drove a first-pitch slider over the wall in center. Uggla, who struck out with runners on first and third in the fifth, is batting .338 with eight homers and 18 RBIs since his hitting streak began.
``If there's any club in the league that should know how to pitch to Uggla,' McKeon said. ``These guys have been with him. That's two nights in a row he's hit three-run homers. It's the difference in the ballgame. Great kid, but can't get him out.'
Omar Infante had an RBI single in the sixth for Florida, but it wasn't nearly enough to stop Sanchez from falling to 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA his last four starts against Atlanta.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez hopes his lineup keeps scoring runs while its best hitter, McCann, recovers from a strained left oblique. Uggla's surge could go a long way toward keeping Gonzalez happy.
Fredi Gonzalez and Uggla worked together in Florida before hooking back up with the Braves last winter.
``This is the right time to get going,' Gonzalez said. ``We're winning ballgames with McCann on the bench, and that's good to see from your other guys.'
NOTES: Freeman went 2 for 4 has reached base safely in 36 of his last 40 games. He is hitting.374 in 99 at_bats this month, and his 14-game hitting streak is the longest by a major league rookie this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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