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Braves lose despite Maholm's strong start

Braves lose despite Maholm's strong start

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Robinson Cano and Zoilo Almonte both homered while helping the Yankees begin the Grapefruit League season with an 8-3 win over the Braves at Champion Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Almonte's two-run home run off Jordan Walden highlighted a decisive four-run third inning that was aided by two errors, a wild pitch and a passed ball. Braves third baseman Chris Johnson's inability to catch a routine pop fly in front of the plate provided the spark for the Yankees, who saw Eduardo Nunez double and score in the inning.

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After reaching via errors in his first two plate appearances, Cano padded the Yankees' lead with an opposite-field home run off Yohan Flande in the fifth inning.

Acquired from the Cubs midway through last season, Paul Maholm started for the Braves and worked two no-hit innings. The left-hander allowed a baserunner in the first inning when Cano reached on an error by first baseman Freddie Freeman, but Mark Teixeira followed by grounding into an inning-ending double play.

Evan Gattis brought the Braves to within two runs with the two-run homer that he lined over the left-field wall against Mikey O'Brien in the sixth inning. But the Yankees regained a commanding lead with a three-run seventh inning.

Gattis, who is bidding to win one of Atlanta's final bench spots, also added a double that put Dan Uggla in position to score with Brett Marshall on the mound in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Braves up next: The Braves will play their first road game of the Grapefruit League season Sunday, when they travel to Bradenton to play the Pirates at 1:05 p.m. ET. Braves outfielders Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton are all scheduled to make the trip. Highly regarded pitching prospect Julio Teheran will make his first start and begin his bid toward securing the fifth spot in Atlanta's rotation. Jonny Venters will be among the relievers who will follow Teheran.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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