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Kawakami's debut sets victorious tone


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at Bradenton, Fla.

Friday, Feb. 27

Braves at the plate: Both Greg Norton and Chipper Jones, who was making his first trip to Bradenton since playing there during rookie ball, went deep off Pirates pitching Friday. Norton's solo shot came in the fourth before Jones drilled a two-run blast an inning later. Infielder Omar Infante got the Braves on the scoreboard first with an RBI double off the center-field wall in the third.

Pirates at the plate: The offensive output from Pittsburgh was quite minimal against the Atlanta hurlers. After striking out in his first two Spring Training at-bats, first baseman Adam LaRoche recorded his first hit of the exhibition season. Singles from LaRoche and catcher Ryan Doumit were the only two hits the team had in the first six innings. Pedro Alvarez, who was a late addition to the lineup after Eric Hinske had to be scratched because of a left rib cage contusion, singled in the seventh. Second baseman Shelby Ford then singled and scored in the eighth. Ford has hit safely in all three Spring Training games.

Braves on the mound: Atlanta starter Kenshin Kawakami had a successful North American debut. Kawakami threw two scoreless innings, allowed one hit and struck out one. He was followed by Buddy Carlyle, who also tossed two scoreless innings. Relievers Kris Medlen, Mariano Gomez and Todd Redmond each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Gomez and Medlen each struck out two.

Pirates on the mound: After needing only seven pitches to get through the first, starter Tom Gorzelanny finagled his way out of a jam in the second on his way to two scoreless innings of work. He kept the Braves hitless, but gave up two walks. Jason Davis, Zach Duke and Daniel McCutchen -- all candidates for the starting rotation -- gave up at least one run in one inning of work apiece. Duke and McCutchen were tagged for the two home runs.

Grapefruit League records: Braves 2-1; Pirates 2-1

Up next: Atlanta's marquee free-agent signing of the offseason, right-hander Derek Lowe, will make his debut with the Braves on Saturday. Lowe will take the mound against the Blue Jays as the Braves travel to Dunedin, Fla., for the 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Lowe, who went 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA for the Dodgers last year, signed a four-year deal with the Braves on Jan. 15.

The Pirates will get their first look at lefty Paul Maholm on Saturday as he takes the mound with the distinction of being the only Pittsburgh pitcher guaranteed of a spot in the starting rotation this year. Fresh off a breakthrough year in which he led all Pirates starters with nine wins and a 3.71 ERA, Maholm will toss two innings in his 2009 debut.

Maholm will face the Astros, the first division opponent the Pirates have seen this spring. The game is scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. ET in Kissimmee, Fla. Rotation candidate Jeff Karstens and relievers Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez and Craig Hansen are also scheduled to pitch for Pittsburgh.

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