MLB

Brett Lawrie has three hits for Blue Jays

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DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP)

Blue Jays manager John Farrell thinks there's no reason for Brett Lawrie to have any doubts about his game.

Lawrie went 3 for 3 Sunday to raise his spring average to .579 and had one of Toronto's five doubles in a 9-5 win over the Atlanta Braves in a game between split squads.

The Braves and Blue Jays played another split squad game in Kissimmee, but it was postponed by rain in the top of the third inning.

Lawrie batted .293 last year - his average didn't dip below .300 until his final three games before a broken finger ended his season Sept. 20.

Farrell said Lawrie is ''showing more confident in his game. I wouldn't say (more) confidence in himself; he's always had a lot of confidence, but just the fact that he's got just about a year under his belt potentially at third base, I think 150 at-bats last year went a long way in his belief that he can handle any kind of pitching he's going to see.''

He said Lawrie's second at-bat, a single to left in the Blue Jays' three-run fourth inning, is ''the one that stands out the most. (Todd Redmond) makes a good pitch down and away and (Lawrie's) got the presence of mind to foul off a tough pitch and continue to battle and then when he gets a mistake up on the plate he gets a line-drive base hit.''

Left-hander Ricky Romero, Toronto's likely opening-day starter, pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four. In two spring starts - five shutout innings - he has five strikeouts and no walks.

Romero said he ''threw strikes, got quick outs, groundballs. I was pounding the (strike) zone. I'm obviously happy with no walks, being able to come back from 2-0 (counts) and get outs like that. It felt great.''

Not a ball made it out of the infield against Romero. The closest? A line drive that Romero caught as he ducked out of the way.

Lawrie's single in the fourth followed Adam Lind's single and preceded J.P. Arencibia's RBI double. Colby Rasmus' sacrifice fly and Eric Thames' single made it 3-0.

Lawrie had an RBI double in a two-run fifth.

Toronto's four-run seventh included two Braves errors, two walks, a hit batter and Jon Diaz's triple.

The Braves' Eric Hinske hit his second spring homer and Evan Gattis had a two-run double.

NOTES: Toronto manager John Farrell said right-hander Dustin McGowan, in a comeback after missing 2 1/2 seasons due to shoulder surgeries, ''feels great coming out of (Saturday's two-inning) outing. A very promising start,'' his first of the spring. He will start Thursday against Triple-A Indianapolis. . Right-handed reliever Carlos Villanueva felt no ill effects following his first (one inning) spring appearance Saturday since a circulation problem affected his pitching hand. ... Sunday's scheduled split-squad games were the second of three in 10 days. . Brandon Beachy will start for Atlanta Monday against Jaime Garcia and the host Cardinals at Jupiter, and Brandon Morrow will start for the Blue Jays against Wei-Yin Chen and the visiting Orioles.

Tagged: Blue Jays, Braves, Ricky Romero

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