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Braves' Beachy pitches six shutout innings

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy showed again Friday night why the Atlanta Braves couldn't keep him out of there starting rotation.

Beachy, who found out on Thursday that he had won a spot, allowed two hits in six scoreless innings and lowered his ERA to 1.13 as a Braves split squad beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3. He 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 everyone even more, including 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 Class AA, but 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 to give the Braves a quick advantage and Beachy sailed through his six innings needing just 74 pitches. The Tigers' hits were a double off the top of the right-center field fence by Miguel Cabrera in the second inning and single by Jhonny Peralta in the fifth.

"He's been impressive," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Beachy. "Those were pretty good hitters [on the Tigers]. You're not talking about chopped liver over there."

"It's always a challenge facing the same team in a row, but I like the competition," Beachy said.

Jones connected right-handed for his long homer after Alex Gonzalez and Jason Heyward singled in the first inning 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 straight away 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.