KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Julio Teheran labored through 5 2-3 innings, allowing only two runs, and the Atlanta Braves roughed up Clay Buchholz for 12 hits and four runs in a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday in a game called in the top of the seventh inning because of rain.
Teheran, who is expected to be the Braves’ opening-day starter for the second straight year, has struggled this spring, but he lowered his ERA to 5.79 Friday. He walked four and had runners on base in every inning but one. He also allowed a homer to Boston center fielder Mookie Betts.
“It’s an honor to pitch opening day,” Teheran said. “It is something I’ve been working for and I don’t want anyone to take it from me.”
Teheran said he wasn’t too concerned with his early struggles. He’s allowed runs in each of his previous three starts and gave up seven in 3 1-3 innings against Toronto on March 18.
“I got the chance to pitch out of situations and got to experience a little bit of everything,” Teheran said. “It’s better to work now in spring training than later.”
Buchholz allowed a home run to Kelly Johnson in his five innings and struck out six.
Atlanta’s A.J. Pierzynski went 2 for 3 to raise his average to .393. Pedro Ciriaco, vying for the Braves starting shortstop position, led off and had two hits and three RBIs to up his average to .370. Freddie Freeman also had two hits for the Braves.
Betts went 2 for 3 with a homer to raise his spring average to .487. His homer was the first of the spring. Brock Holt also had two hits for Boston.
Red Sox: Manager John Farrell hasn’t named his opening day starter yet but Buchholz thinks he’s in the mix. Buchholz went 8-11 with a 5.34 ERA for the Red Sox last season. That’s more wins that any returning Red Sox starter. Newcomer Rick Porcello won 15 games for the Detroit Tigers.
“No word yet on opening day,” Buchholz said. “Opening day would be awesome, but I still have a job to do this spring. I’m not thinking about it. I’m just getting prepared.”
Buchholz, who entered the game with a spring ERA of 1.80, said he’s on his own timetable.
“Anything that happens, I hope it happens in spring training,” he said. “I’m feeling fine.”
Braves: OF Nick Markakis played for the third time in four days, going 0 for 4, leaving four men on base. Markakis, who signed a four-year, $44 million deal with the Braves during the offseason, is recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he has no doubt that Markakis will be ready for opening day. … LHP Mike Minor is still not scheduled to appear any time soon. Minor, recovering from shoulder discomfort, started throwing on Wednesday and isn’t expected to go north with the Braves.
Red Sox: Steven Wright, who started one game last season, will make his third start of the spring on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays. He has a 1.80 ERA.
Braves: Alex Wood will make his fourth start of the spring in Dunedin against the Toronto Blue Jays.
MOOKIE LIGHTS IT UP
Betts, a converted infielder, is making a fine transition to center field. He had a leaping catch Friday.
“I’m just having fun playing the game,” Betts said. “It was a big catch and I am making adjustments and now I am feeling comfortable. It’s starting to feel like every day is no different than any other day.”
Betts leads the Red Sox this spring in batting average, hits, doubles and triple.
COMING BACK BIG
Johnson, a non-roster invitee to Braves camp who played for three major league teams last year, got off to a slow start this spring but has started to impress Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. Johnson raised his average to .262 with a homer off of Buchholz, and Gonzalez is intrigued by Johnson’s flexibility in the field.
“I don’t know where to play him,” Gonzalez said. “He can hit it out of the park and he can play a lot of positions. We just have to see how it plays out over the next eight days.”
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