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Published: Wednesday, 2/26/2014

Tigers open with rain-shortened win

Martinez drives in 2 against Braves

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Tigers' Ezequiel Carrera slides past Atlanta’s Christian Bethancourt to score what would become the winning run after a rain-delay was called in the ninth. The Tigers' Ezequiel Carrera slides past Atlanta’s Christian Bethancourt to score what would become the winning run after a rain-delay was called in the ninth.
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. — In a spring training game that ended with both teams leaving the field and neither side sure who won, the Detroit Tigers were later awarded a 6-5 victory Wednesday over the Atlanta Braves in a rain-shortened exhibition game.

Hernan Perez hit a two-run, two-out single in the top of the ninth inning that put the Tigers ahead.

The game was stopped with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a Braves runner on first base, and it never resumed.

During the regular season, the game would have been suspended and completed at a later date. The Braves asked the Elias Sports Bureau for a ruling — with no resumption in sight, the Braves said Elias told them Detroit was declared the winner.

Neither manager questioned the decision, either.

Victor Martinez got two hits, drove in two runs, and stole a base for the Tigers.

Braves starter Freddy Garcia struck out two in two hitless innings.

Tigers starter Drew Smyly, who is joining the starting rotation after two solid years in the bullpen, allowed a run and struck out two.

Smyly is expected to take the place of Doug Fister, who was traded to the Washington Nationals during the offseason.

"Drew had a good outing," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "That's what we are looking for from him down here."

STARTING TIME: Smyly said he felt fine after his spring debut. He pitched in 63 games last season, going 6-0 with a 2.37 ERA, but he didn't start a game all year and was used mostly as a setup man for the Tigers beleaguered bullpen.

"That was nice out there today," Smyly said. "I don't remember the last time I got to pitch two innings."

Smyly threw 40 pitches and threw nothing but fastballs in the first inning.

He switched to some changeups in the second inning and said he felt fine.

"I have a whole month to get better," he said.

TRAINER'S ROOM: Detroit catcher Alex Avila is expected to start on Thursday in Lakeland against the Braves.

He is recovering from back spasms.

SOLID START: Dan Uggla, who batted .179 last year, struck out 171 times and then was left off the postseason roster, went 2 for 2 and drove in a run.

"It was a good start," the three-time all-star second baseman said. "I finally get to see live pitching and I was ready. The most encouraging thing is I feel a lot more comfortable. I have a long way to go, but I am encouraged."

CATCHING ON: Evan Gattis is the odds-on favorite to become the Braves' starting catcher after Brian McCann moved to the New York Yankees as a free agent. Gattis hit 21 homers in 354 at-bats last season and said he is ready for the full-time job. He had an RBI double in his first at-bat.

"I was waiting to hit live pitching all winter and spring," Gattis said. "I feel great and just want at-bats."



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