Uggla unfazed by slow start

Atlanta's Brent Clevlen is out at second as Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar, a former Brave, throws to first on Friday. Jesse Litsch pitched three scoreless innings in Toronto's 7-5 victory.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. --- Slow starts in spring training mean nothing to Dan Uggla.


Mostly quiet in his first few games, Uggla hit a long double and hard single Friday for a split squad of Atlanta Braves in a 7-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Uggla was an All-Star with Florida before getting traded to Atlanta during the off-season. He is reuniting with former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, who was fired last summer before being hired by the Braves.

Uggla started this spring with two singles in 10 at-bats. No worries, though, for Gonzalez.

"I've seen him for four springs and he always starts like this," Gonzalez said. "A couple of years ago he started, I think, 0 for 22 and he made the All-Star team. I don't worry about him at all. This was typical and he was hitting it pretty hard today."

Uggla said he wasn't pressing in his first camp with the Braves.

"I'm just happy to be here," Uggla said. "I loved playing for the Marlins but it was business deal and I am comfortable here, playing for Fredi again."

Toronto's Jesse Litsch fared well in his second start of the spring, shutting out the Braves over three innings. He struck out four, allowing one hit.

"We have two spots in the rotation up for grabs," manager John Farrell said. "If he keeps going like this, he has a great chance. He looked really good today."

Litsch was 1-5 in nine starts last season, but Farrell said he sees a new pitcher this year.

"He's getting better," Farrell said. "The competition is still open, but he made a statement today."

The Braves led 5-3 going into the eighth, but the Blue Jays scored twice off George Sherrill and two more in the ninth off Peter Moylan. Jason Lane and Brian Jeroloman had RBI singles for the Blue Jays in the ninth.

Braves starter Mike Minor allowed one earned run in three innings, but he battled out of jams throughout.

Braves sting Nats

VIERA, Fla. --- Washington starter Jason Marquis took advantage of the windy conditions to throw three scoreless innings and finished up before a swarm of bees delayed Atlanta's split-squad 6-4 win Friday.

The game was halted for roughly two minutes in the bottom of the third when the bees appeared in center field.

Braves starter Brandon Beachy allowed one hit and struck out four in three scoreless innings.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo home run for the Nationals. Atlanta broke a 3-all tie with three runs in the ninth off Drew Storen.

-- Associated Press



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