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Tigers declared winners, beat Braves in rain game

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP)

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 over the Atlanta Braves in a rain-shortened exhibition Wednesday.

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

Detroit: Smyly said he felt fine after his spring debut. Smyly 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.

Atlanta: Garcia retired all six batters he faced, a nice outing as he tries to win the final starting spot in the rotation. His main competition appears to be Alex Wood. ''I had a couple of good innings,'' Garcia said. ''I pitched about as well as I could today. I got groundballs and a few strikeouts. That's what I wanted.''

Garcia was a non-roster invitee to camp this year. He was 1-2 with a 1.65 ERA in three starts for the Braves last season.

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.''

Tagged: Tigers, Braves, Freddy Garcia

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