Kemp, Suzuki pace Braves' bats with 2-RBI days

Kemp, Suzuki pace Braves' bats with 2-RBI days

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Andrew Romine's two-run home run rallied the Tigers back from an early deficit, building a lead that Anibal Sanchez protected for an 8-6 win over the Braves on Wednesday at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Jordan Zimmermann, who gave up five runs on four hits in his final inning of work in his last start, had strong velocity at 93-94 mph on his fastball with some deception on his slider Wednesday. However, he struggled to finish off hitters, starting with a nine-pitch groundout to leadoff man Chase d'Arnaud and snowballing after he was late covering first base on Brandon Phillips' grounder. Freddie Freeman singled through the infield shift, Matt Kemp deposited a two-run bloop double down the right-field line and Kurt Suzuki pummeled a hanging curveball on an 0-2 pitch for a two-run homer to left.

"To be honest, I can't even be mad at that start," Zimmermann said. "I was making my pitches. I feel amazing, the ball is coming out good. The velocity is good on everything I'm throwing. Just, foul ball, foul ball, foul ball, and the [pitch] count got up. Just bad luck I guess."

Zimmermann left after 40 pitches, 15 of them foul balls, after catcher James McCann dropped a popup in front of home plate for what would've been the third out. Logan Kensing recorded four outs before Sanchez, who tested out a different arm angle by throwing a bullpen session to manager Brad Ausmus two days earlier, retired the next 12 batters. Sanchez struck out five batters, four of them on called third strikes.

On the other side, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey lasted into the fifth inning but gave up six runs, five earned, on eight hits. Mikie Mahtook, 3-for-30 entering the day, tripled in a run and scored another to halve Atlanta's lead before Romine's second homer of the spring tied it. Justin Upton doubled and scored on a wild pitch to move Detroit in front.

"I threw some pretty predictable pitches in some hitters' counts, like on the home run, it was basically a [batting-practice] fastball," Dickey said. "During the regular season, it's definitely a different pitch. So, I was just trying to get through innings quickly."

Braves Up Next: Atlanta and Detroit will meet again on Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex. Mike Foltynewicz will be scheduled to complete at least four innings as he attempts to lock up the final spot in the Braves' rotation.

Tigers Up Next: Daniel Norris continues his quest for a rotation spot when he makes his fourth start of the spring Thursday in the back half of the home-and-home set.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.