KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Don’t call this just another spring training start for Washington’s Ross Detwiler.
He’s getting ready for the World Baseball Classic.
Detwiler worked into the third inning in his first spring appearance for the Nationals, tuning up against most of the Atlanta starters, before a five-run fifth carried the Braves to a 9-5 victory Tuesday.
“It always feels a little weird to be out there for the first time without a screen in front of you,” the left-hander said. “I wanted to throw a lot of first-pitch strikes.”
Detwiler breezed through the first two innings, limiting the Braves to a single and pitching around an error by first baseman Tyler Moore. But he couldn’t get through the third, giving up run-scoring singles to brothers Justin and B.J. Upton to tie the game at 2.
Still, Detwiler was encouraged by his performance, especially since the Braves sent out a lineup with six expected starters for a game that was delayed an hour at the start by rain.
“I was facing a lot of their big guys,” he said after giving up five hits and striking out two in 2 2-3 innings. “I’m pretty happy I got to face those guys this early.”
The Braves batted around in the fifth, erasing a 3-2 deficit against loser Ryan Perry.
Jordan Parraz led off with his first homer of the spring, Evan Gattis doubled to left-center and Freddie Freeman drove in the go-ahead run with a single up the middle. Juan Francisco also singled in a run before the Nationals finally made a pitching change with the bases loaded and still only one out. Brandon Mann walked Ramiro Pena with the bases loaded, and Joey Terdoslavich closed the big inning with a sacrifice fly.
Perry went 1 2-3 innings, giving up six hits, five runs and two walks.
Atlanta starter Mike Minor struggled through the first, throwing 28 pitches and allowing two runs. The Braves worried he wouldn’t even be able to get in his scheduled two innings, since he was on a 40-pitch count, but he breezed through an easy second with just 10 pitches.
“The thing that was impressive was the way he came out in the second inning and went 1-2-3,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Bryce Harper doubled twice and had three of Washington’s 10 hits, raising his average to .750 (6 for 8) in the early days of spring training. Ian Desmond had two hits and two RBIs.
Dusty Hughes claimed the win for the Braves, who pounded out 15 hits and walked five times. Gattis had two more hits, raising his spring average to .556 and bolstering the non-roster invitee’s bid to make the team. Francisco and Ramiro Pena had two hits apiece.
Gonzalez has been impressed with Pena, who is getting extra playing time at shortstop with starter Andrelton Simmons having already left camp to play in the WBC for the Netherlands.
“He’s a utility guy with a little offense to him,” the Braves manager said. “I like what I’ve seen.”
NOTES: The Nationals made two errors. … The Braves are holding out reliever Eric O’Flaherty until next week, wanting to give him some extra rest because of lingering back issues. … Washington manager Davey Johnson said C Wilson Ramos, coming off knee surgery, won’t be allowed to slide until at least March 6. He must pass that test before he can even get in spring games as a designated hitter. “I’ve said he was game ready for the last week, but what do I know?” Johnson said. “I want to get him swinging the bat a little bit.”
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