Braves fall to Tigers in preseason finale

ATLANTA - Rick Porcello, making a bid to be more than a fill-in starter for Detroit, pitched two scoreless innings and the Tigers beat the Atlanta Braves 8-4 on Saturday in each team's final exhibition game.

The 20-year-old Porcello, making the jump from Class A, gave up only one hit. With Jeremy Bonderman opening the season on the 15-day disabled list, Porcello won a spot in the rotation during spring training and will make his major league debut Thursday at Toronto.

The right-hander isn't assured of keeping his spot when Bonderman is cleared to pitch.

'I'll have to take it one day at a time and see how it goes,' said Porcello, the Tigers' 2007 first-round pick.

Porcello struck out one and threw 21 of his 26 pitches for strikes.

'He looked like he was right at home to me,' manager Jim Leyland said. 'He handled himself quite well. It was good to get him out there.'

Porcello showed no sign of being awed by the start at Turner Field.

'I tried to tell myself before the game to just go out and do what I did in my last game,' he said. 'I was able to lock in. I felt good today. It was good preparation for Thursday.'

Armando Galarraga followed Porcello and gave up two runs, one earned, in 52/3 innings.

Detroit's Carlos Guillen hit a two-run homer, his first of the spring. Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge each had two hits and two RBIs.

Kenshin Kawakami walked seven batters and gave up four runs in 22/3 innings for Atlanta. He issued bases-loaded walks in the second and third.

'I don't think I've ever walked as many in nine innings let alone three innings,' Kawakami said through an interpreter. 'I think that must be a first in my baseball life.

'I felt like my curve just wasn't breaking well today. I just didn't have full control of it.'

Kawakami will follow Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vazquez as the Braves' No. 4 starter.

Kawakami was 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA in five spring appearances before his shaky start on Saturday.

'It's not the best time to have it,' manager Bobby Cox said of the right-hander's only poor spring start.

'You want to get it out of your mind as quick as possible. I've got a lot of confidence in him. I think he'll be fine. ... The only difference is the control factor, that's all. He was off-target.'

Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur had two hits, including a homer, to finish the spring with a .328 batting average.

Braves pitching prospect Tommy Hanson, headed for Triple-A Gwinnett, replaced Kawakami in the third inning and struck out Placido Polanco to strand three runners.

Hanson gave up run-scoring singles to Cabrera in the fourth and sixth. Cabrera scored on Guillen's two-run homer in the sixth.

Notes: 3B Chipper Jones was sick, Cox said, but 'should be fine, I think,' for tonight's opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. ... Despite the loss, the Braves (21-12) had their most wins in spring training since moving to Atlanta in 1966. ... Cabrera finished spring training with a .400 batting average. ... Detroit is off today before beginning a four-game series at Toronto.