Braves (ss) 3, Tigers (ss) 1

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LAKELAND, Fla. (AP)—With only one start left in spring training, Kenny Rogers is not where he wants to be. Tim Hudson, however, feels better than he has in years.

Rogers threw six scoreless innings and Hudson gave up a run in six innings during the Atlanta Braves’ 3-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers in a split-squad game Saturday.

“I feel very erratic with my control,” said Rogers, who gave up four hits and walked two. “I’m not going to dwell on it, but my control has to be better when it counts.”

Rogers was 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA last season, his first in Detroit. He held the New York Yankees, Oakland and St. Louis scoreless over 23 innings in the playoffs and was a major reason the Tigers played in the World Series for the first time since 1984.

Meanwhile, Hudson’s lackluster year led to Atlanta watching the playoffs after it had won 14 straight division titles. He was 13-12 with a career-worst 4.86 ERA after going 14-9 with a 3.52 in his first season with the Braves.

Those were hardly the results the Braves were counting on when they traded for Hudson, whose 81 wins from 2000-04 with Oakland tied for the most in the AL during that span.

“I feel like they got shortchanged the last two years,” Hudson said.

He has been sharp this spring, posting a 1.71 ERA, and said his fifth start on Saturday was his best.

“I was throwing everything and I felt as close to game-ready as I can be,” he said. “Considering the year I had, it was nice to come in and have a nice spring.

“Everything is where I want it to be right now.”

After watching Hudson pitch well against some of Detroit’s everyday players, Atlanta manager Bobby Cox agreed.

“His ball was nasty,” Cox said. “He threw his changeup, curveball, slider, split and hard sinker. He’s ready to go. He’s throwing a lot of strikes and he’s keeping the ball down.

“He’s got a little bit of everything going right.”

It all looked familiar to Rogers, who pitched for Oakland in 1999, when Hudson was a rookie.

“If he pitches like he did today, and I know he can because I’ve seen it up close, he’ll have a fantastic year because he has dominant stuff,” Rogers said.

Both Rogers and Hudson will taper down in their final exhibition start next week after facing 24 and 23 batters, respectively.

That changed Hudson’s mind-set.

“I went into this one as I would for the starts in the season, with intensity and pitching to guys,” Hudson said.

He has worked hard on his mechanics, and has been pleased with the results.

“I’ve probably thrown more good splits this spring than the last two years combined,” Hudson said. “The way I see the ball coming out of my hand is not something I’ve felt since my second-to-last year in Oakland.”

His velocity is up, too.

“I don’t usually go under 90,” he said. “Last year, I didn’t go over 90 much.”

Detroit shortstop Carlos Guillen limped off the field with a bruised shin in the third inning after fouling off a pitch.

“I wear a shin guard, but maybe I need two,” Guillen joked, with ice packed around his right shin. “It’s the second time in the same spot this spring.”

Guillen expects to miss only Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees.

Catcher Vance Wilson, who backs up All-Star Ivan Rodriguez, left after the third inning with right elbow inflammation.

“It’s just more of a precaution after I felt it coming on,” Wilson said. “I’ll be all right.”


Cox said LHP Mike Hampton (strained left oblique) is on pace to return in early May after five or six rehabilitation starts. “We would have some depth,” Cox said. … DH Gary Sheffield put Detroit ahead 1-0 in the third with an RBI single. … Atlanta 2B Kelly Johnson impressed Cox with his defense, two hits and an RBI. “He looks good,” Cox said.

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