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Braves’ Kawakami solid in first start of spring

Kyodo News

Atlanta Braves right-hander Kenshin Kawakami pitched two scoreless innings in his first start of the spring against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

Kawakami allowed just one hit and walked none in the team’s 4-2 win while keeping batters off-balance with his two-seam fastball, which he had worked on during the off-season.

“The best thing about today was I was able to strike out a left-handed batter swinging with my two-seamer outside,” said Kawakami, who went 7-12 with a 3.86 ERA in 32 games in his rookie season in the majors last year.

Elsewhere, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Koji Uehara retired the side in order in third-inning relief in a 6-5 “sayonara” defeat against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Chicago Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome went 2-for-3 in a 9-3 rout of the Oakland Athletics, while Houston Astros second baseman Kazuo Matsui had an RBI single in three at-bats in a 15-5 romp over the Washington Nationals.

Boston Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima threw a scoreless inning in a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins.