KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Kenshin Kawakami relished the opportunity to match up against fellow countryman Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Matsuzaka allowed two hits and an earned run over five innings in his return to the Boston Red Sox from the World Baseball Classic. Kawakami gave up a two-run homer to Rocco Baldelli for his only runs, and the Atlanta Braves rallied to beat the Red Sox 4-3 in 10 innings on Monday.
More than 30 Japanese media members in the press box made the game a bit more intense for the starters.
'With so many media, I guess I felt a little more excited,' Kawakami said through an interpreter. 'If I was in Japan, I'd probably enjoy (the matchup) also.'
Kawakami, who was signed by the Braves this winter after starring in Japan, pitched six innings and gave up four hits.
Matsuzaka, who was the MVP of the tournament, liked the timing of the pitching pairing as he adjusted from the pressure of the WBC to spring training.
'Luckily today, going up against Kenshin-san on the other side gave me a change to get revved up,' Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. 'When I'm going up against any Japanese player, whether pitcher or position player, I'm always keeping an eye out on what kind of game they're going to pitch or how they're doing in the batter's box.'
With the designated hitter being used, Kawakami didn't get to hit against Matsuzaka.
But the former MVP in Japan certainly showed again this spring that he can get major league hitters out.
'I felt like I pitched well,' said Kawakami, who struck out four and walked two.
Kawakami has a 1.74 ERA in five Grapefruit League games.
'He was real good again,' Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
'He had that knee-buckling curve. I don't think anyone had a good swing at it. There aren't too many good hooks around anymore. It's a big weapon for him.'
Matzuzaka walked three but allowed just a single by Garret Anderson in the second inning and a double by Brian McCann in the fourth. One of the two runs that inning was unearned after an error by Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis.
Anderson, used as the DH for the second game after missing more than three weeks with a calf strain, was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. He was hitless coming in.
'He hit the ball hard three times,' said Cox, who will play Anderson in the outfield during tonight's game with Houston. 'He looks good at the plate.'
The Braves tied the game in the ninth on a single by Martin Prado and won it in the 10th on a double by Brooks Conrad.
It was the final Florida home game of the spring for the Braves.