Braves find production in lineup's bottom half

Snitker impressed with Suzuki's knack for doubles; Boyer, O'Flaherty, Roe make cases

Braves find production in lineup's bottom half

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Although the Tigers proved too much for the Atlanta offense to overcome in the Braves' 7-5 loss Saturday, their fifth, sixth and seventh hitters certainly did their part.

Against Mike Pelfrey in the second inning, No. 5 hitter Nick Markakis led off with a walk and scored on No. 6 batter Kurt Suzuki's double. Seventh-hitter Rio Ruiz then walked before starter Bartolo Colon's squeeze bunt scored Suzuki, giving the Braves a two-run answer to the Tigers' four runs in the top of the inning.

Suzuki and Ruiz also hit back-to-back singles in the fourth, and in the sixth, Markakis led off with a double, and Ruiz added an RBI two-bagger.

"Suzuki's been rolling the last two or three games," manager Brian Snitker said. "He's got about six doubles I think, swinging the bat pretty good. ... As long as the guys are healthy, we're in good shape."

Bullpen battle continues

Three top candidates for the Braves' final bullpen spot pitched Saturday, holding Detroit scoreless after Colon allowed six runs.

Right-hander Blaine Boyer bailed Colon out of a two-out jam in the fourth, getting Steven Moya to fly out to left field with runners at second at third. He then struck out two in a scoreless fifth. Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty also struck out two in the sixth, as did righty Chaz Roe in the eighth.

"I really liked how Chaz Roe threw [Saturday]," Snitker said. "He was down through the ball, velocity was good and he was in the strike zone. I really liked that. O'Flaherty was really good. I got a good look at [lefty Kevin] Chapman for the first time, just getting him out there. ... [O'Flaherty] is throwing probably harder than that year he had a real good year for us [2011, 0.98 ERA in 78 games]."

Roe is on the 40-man roster but out of options, while O'Flaherty and Boyer are non-roster invitees.

O'Flaherty has allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings (2.35 ERA) this spring, while Boyer and Roe have allowed nine and seven earned runs, respectively. Boyer has thrown 7 1/3 innings (11.05 ERA), whereas Roe had been limited to 4 2/3 innings (13.50 ERA).

Zak Kerr is a contributor to and covered the Braves on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.