published Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Beachy pitches Braves past Tigers

KISSIMMEE, Fla.—Rookie pitcher Brandon Beachy showed again Friday night why the Atlanta Braves couldn’t keep him out of their 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.

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 a single by Jhonny Peralta in the fifth.

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,” Braves manager Fredi 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.”

In Clearwater, meanwhile, Philadelphia right-hander Joe Blanton blanked another set of Braves for six innings in a 3-1 Phillies win.

Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run homer in the first.

Blanton, the fifth starter in Philadelphia’s ace-stacked rotation, retired his first eight batters, three by strikeout, and limited Atlanta to five hits. He struck out four and didn’t issue any walks.

Earlier in the day, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced that closer Brad Lidge’s right shoulder injury would prevent him from starting the season healthy.

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