Chipper continues spring rampage in win

Chipper continues spring rampage in win

Chipper continues spring rampage in win
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Chipper Jones' three-run, first-inning homer off Adam Wilk propelled the Braves to a 5-3 win over the Tigers at Champion Stadium on Friday night.

Jones' mammoth first-inning shot sailed over the tall scoreboard in left field, traveling an estimated 450 feet. This was the fourth home run hit by the veteran third baseman, who has recorded 15 hits in his past 27 at-bats and batted .411 this exhibition season.

"That really was impressive," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's had a terrific spring. He's running the bases and he feels good. I'd like to put him in a deep freeze until the season starts."

Wilk, who is bidding for one of the Tigers' final bullpen spots, allowed four earned runs and five hits in three innings. Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez accounted for two of those hits with a first-inning single and second-inning double.

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Right-hander Brayan Villarreal's bid to win a Tigers bullpen spot took a hit, when he suddenly lost the command that he previously possessed this month. Villarreal proved perfect in the fourth inning, and then walked four of the six batters he faced in the fifth inning.

Brandon Beachy limited the Tigers to two hits over six scoreless innings. The right-hander learned on Thursday that he won the battle for the final spot in the Braves' rotation.

The Tigers got on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh when pinch-runner Don Kelly, running for Miguel Cabrera, scored on a wild pitch by reliever Scott Linebrink.

Detroit tacked on two additional runs in the top of the eighth on Will Rhymes' sacrifice fly and on a wild pitch by Braves pitcher George Sherrill that allowed Danny Worth to score.

Up next for the Braves: Derek Lowe will make his final exhibition start on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET when he pitches three innings against the Mets at Port St. Lucie. This will be Lowe's final preparation before he makes his third consecutive Opening Day start for the Braves on Thursday afternoon in Washington D.C. This will mark the second time this week that some of the Braves' position players will face Mets ace Mike Pelfrey.

Up next for the Tigers: The Tigers hope to make most, if not all, of their remaining moves on Saturday morning before completing the home portion of their Spring Training schedule with a 1:05 p.m. ET matchup against the Phillies at Joker Marchant Stadium. Justin Verlander will make his final tuneup before his Opening Day start, looking to finish the process of getting into his June form by the end of March. Phil Coke, who will work in the bullpen for the season's first week, is also scheduled to pitch. Ryan Feierabend will start for the Phillies split squad.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.