Orioles 2, Braves 1

The Atlanta Braves have started off their exhibition season

horribly, and manager Fredi Gonzalez isn’t liking it.

On Thursday, even Mike Minor’s three scoreless innings didn’t

help the mood of the second-year Atlanta manager who’s trying to

live down last September’s collapse that cost the Braves a playoff

spot.

Atlanta lost to the Baltimore Orioles 2-1, and have dropped five

of six games.

In their losses, the Braves have scored seven runs. In the only

win, Atlanta scored 10. The Braves are batting .216 this

spring.

”You want to win ballgames because it’s a mindset you want to

take to the season,” Gonzalez said.

”It’s still early when you’ve played seven, eight, nine, 10

games, but the number one thing now is being healthy – but you want

to win ballgames. Any competitor who says different is probably

lying to you.”

Minor, who was 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 15 starts for the Braves

last season, allowed three hits and walked two in five scoreless

innings this spring.

The left-hander worked with backup catcher David Ross, and the

two worked on their strategy before the game.

”He wants to mix it up a little bit – get in game mode instead

of just throwing fastballs and trying to find the strike zone. This

time, we threw a lot of change ups and breaking balls,” Minor

said.

Against Detroit on Saturday, Minor allowed a hit and walked one

in two innings.

Jason Hammel, who was acquired by Baltimore last month, allowed

two hits and walked one in two innings. Hammel was sent to the

Orioles by Colorado along with Matt Lindstrom for Jeremy

Guthrie.

In his initial start for Baltimore, Hammel was admittedly

nervous.

”For the first time out, considering all things, the results

were good. I started with the fastball. It was a little erratic

today. That was my goal – to work on fastball command. The first

inning results were good,” Hammel said.

”First inning good, second inning a little shaky. I guess a B,

C, C plus for the effort.”

The Orioles are 3-2, and for the second straight day, played

crisply.

”I like what they’ve shown pitching-wise. They’re off to a good

start,” manager Buck Showalter said.

The game was scoreless through six innings.

Eric Hinske’s leadoff home run in the seventh gave Atlanta a 1-0

lead.

Jai Miller had an RBI single in the seventh inning to tied it

1-all, and Xavier Avery’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly gave

Baltimore the lead.

Notes: Gonzalez said that RHP Tommy Hanson, who suffered a

concussion in an auto accident on Feb. 20, will pitch on Sunday

against Toronto. … Showalter said that OF Nick Markakis, who

hasn’t played because of offseason surgery on his abdomen will be

the designated hitter on March 14. … Minor league catcher Mike

Ohlman, who had an MRI on his injured right shoulder on Wednesday,

won’t play for the remainder of spring training, Showalter said.

Ohlman was involved in an accident with his truck on Tuesday, and

will see the team orthopedist Friday. … Orioles executive vice

president of baseball operations, denied a report that the team was

interested in free agent outfielder Johnny Damon. ”I don’t think

so,” Duquette said. ”I already signed Johnny Damon when he was

28.” Duquette signed Damon as a free agent in the fall of Dec.

2001, shortly before he was fired as Boston’s GM.