KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy showed again Friday night why the Atlanta Braves couldn't keep him out of there starting rotation.
A day after finding out he'd won a spot, Beachy allowed two hits in six scoreless innings and lowered his spring ERA to 1.13 as the split-squad Braves beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3.
Beachy struck out six and walked one. Last Saturday, Beachy pitched five scoreless innings against the Tigers, giving up one hit. That locked down his spot with the Braves and his latest outing impressed Detroit manager Jim Leyland.
``I doubt if there'll be many better fifth starters,' Leyland said. ``I don't have anything but glowing reports from what I've seen. If the Braves have four better starters, and I guess they do, they have a heck of a rotation.'
Beachy started last season as a reliever in Double-A. He finished with the minors' best ERA among qualifiers and earned a late-season look in Atlanta. Now he has won a starting job.
``It's really nice now to take a deep breath and know that I'm going to Atlanta,' Beachy said. ``That feels great.'
Chipper Jones hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Beachy sailed through his six innings needing just 74 pitches. The Tigers' hits off him were a double off the top of the right-center field fence by Miguel Cabrera in the second and single by Jhonny Peralta in the fifth.
``He's been impressive,' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Beachy. ``Those were pretty good hitters. You're not talking about chopped liver over there.'
Jones connected right-handed for his long homer after Alex Gonzalez and Jason Heyward singled off rookie left-hander Adam Wilk, who had posted a 0.71 ERA in a bid for a spot with the Tigers.
It was the fourth homer of the spring for Jones, who had major knee surgery last August. The veteran third baseman has 15 RBIs and a .411 average.
``That was impressive to straightaway center field here,' Gonzalez said. ``He's had a terrific spring. He's running the bases. He feels good. I'd like to freeze him until the start of the season.'
Wilk and fellow rookie Bryan Villarreal had pitched well this spring for the Tigers, putting them in the mix to win bullpen jobs. But Wilk gave up five hits and four runs in his three innings and Villarreal walked four in his second inning of work and had to be pulled early.
Cabrera added a single to his double and lifted his average to .306.
NOTES: Atlanta starter Jair Jurrjens, who was removed after pitching one inning Thursday because of soreness on his right side near the ribcage, received treatment on Friday and his injury is not believed to be serious. ... The Braves travel to Port St. Lucie on Saturday to play the New York Mets for the eighth and final time this spring. Derek Lowe, Atlanta's opening-day starter at Washington next Thursday, is scheduled to pitch. ... Tigers will host the Phillies on Saturday in Lakeland with Justin Verlander, their opening-day pitcher, set to start. ... Detroit relievers Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde pitched in a minor league game to give them a chance to work on back-to-back days.
The Associated Press News Service
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