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G-Braves win spring game 8-1

With the help of a pitcher still on the Atlanta roster, the Gwinnett Braves' first exhibition game couldn't have been any better.

Jo-Jo Reyes pitched 41/3 impressive innings, and the G-Braves had 11 hits and no errors in an 8-1 victory over International League foe Syracuse on Saturday at Disney's Wide World of Sports near Orlando.

With Tom Glavine making his first Grapefruit League start for Atlanta next door at Champion Stadium against the Mets, Reyes started for the G-Braves to keep his regular schedule and overmatched Washington's AAA hitters.

"He was outstanding," G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said by telephone from Florida. "Jo-Jo is becoming a pitcher. He really had a nice changeup."

The left-hander allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out six, following up some solid outings for Atlanta this spring. But with the major league team's starting rotation seemingly full, Reyes is likely to begin the season with Gwinnett in the International League.

James Parr, also expected to be a key part of the G-Braves' starting staff, followed Reyes against Syracuse and allowed the lone run and three hits over 22/3 innings. He struck out four and walked none.

Michael Nix and Luis Valdez, likely to be the G-Braves' closer, each pitched an inning to finish up the victory. Valdez saved 28 games for Class AA Mississippi last year.

"It was the first time I'd seen him pitch," Brundage said. "He threw hard."

Center fielder Gorkys Hernandez, a top prospect expected to start the season at Mississippi, was 2-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base as the leadoff hitter for the G-Braves and veteran Barbaro Canizares, used as the DH, was 3-for-3 from the cleanup spot with two RBIs.

Third baseman Van Pope was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and first baseman Greg Creek and catcher Phillip Britton each drove in a pair of runs.

The G-Braves play Round Rock of the Pacific Coast League today at Houston's complex in Kissimmee. On Monday, Gwinnett faces IL foe Toledo - Detroit's AAA team - at Disney.

Gwinnett opens its first season on April 9 at Charlotte. The home opener is April 17 against Norfolk.