published Friday, March 9th, 2012

Braves lose again 2-1

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Atlanta Braves have started off their exhibition season horribly, and manager Fredi Gonzalez isn't liking it.

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 2-1 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.

Thursdaiy's 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 tie it, and Xavier Avery's eighth-inning sacrifice fly gave Baltimore the lead.

"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 last 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.

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