Francisco goes deep as Braves edge Tigers

Francisco goes deep as Braves edge Tigers

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Juan Francisco hit a leadoff homer in the ninth inning as the Braves rallied for a 6-5 win over the Tigers on Tuesday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Trailing by two runs in the seventh, Atlanta got a pinch-hit three-run homer from Ramiro Pena, but Detroit tied things up in the eighth on Danny Worth's RBI single to left field.

Don Kelly, whose Minor League contract includes an opt-out clause that allows him to become a free agent if the Tigers don't add him to their 40-man roster in the next couple days, added some pressure to his case for the final spot on the club's bench. The outfielder fell a triple shy of the cycle, as he went deep, notched two doubles and recorded a single in the ninth to cap his 4-for-4 performance.

Kelly's highlight, though, was his drive over the right-field fence off Braves lefty Jonny Venters. It marked Kelly's second homer in three days since breaking out of an 0-for-11 slump, and it brought the Tigers back into a tie game off a pitching duel between starters Shawn Hill and Tim Hudson.

Ramon Santiago tripled in Brayan Pena before scoring on Venters' wild pitch for a 4-2 Tigers lead for Octavio Dotel to protect in the seventh. Venters retired only one batter before he left with a left elbow sprain.

Dotel struck out the side in his first Major League Spring Training game since returning from the World Baseball Classic, but he paid for a two-out single from Matt Pagnozzi and a fastball to Ramiro Pena, whose first home run of the spring hit high off the right-field scoreboard put the Braves back in front.

Atlanta's advantage lasted an inning before Worth singled in the tying run in the eighth.

Hill faced one batter over the minimum through his first three innings before Jason Heyward doubled and scored in the fourth. Gerald Laird, getting his first at-bats in more than a week, singled in a run in the fifth.

Hill was assigned to Minor League camp immediately after his outing, and he'll start the season in Triple-A Toledo's rotation.

Hudson allowed a run on four hits over four innings in his final spring start.

Up next: The Braves will travel to Viera on Wednesday for one last preseason matchup against the division-rival Nationals. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. Manager Fredi Gonzalez is expected to utilize his normal lineup against left-hander Ross Detwiler. Minor League pitcher Daniel Rodriguez will start the game for the Braves, who will conclude the Florida portion of their spring schedule on Thursday against the Astros.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.