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Lowe throws six innings for Braves
Derek Lowe throws a pitch during the first inning Friday against the Detroit Tigers in Kissimmee, Fla. - photo by Charlie Riedel

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Derek Lowe is feeling good heading into the season, and it’s easy to see why.

“There are a couple of things I’m happy about and one of them is that I haven’t walked anybody,” Atlanta’s scheduled opening-day starter said. “You can pitch around hits if they’re singles and you don’t have extra guys on.”

Lowe pitched six effective innings Friday in the Braves’ 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers, allowing just one earned run despite yielding eight hits and some shoddy defense behind him.

“He looks good,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “His ball is sinking and he’s putting the ball where he wants it. He’s all set to go.”

Lowe struck out four and threw 58 of his 77 pitches for strikes. The right-hander has 15 strikeouts and no walks in 18 innings this spring.

Lowe, who was on the mound for all three of Atlanta’s errors against Detroit, is expected to make one more start before facing the Chicago Cubs in Atlanta in the opener on April 5. His last exhibition start likely will be a scaled down outing.

“This start is the one that feels the most like a real game because you know that you’re going to be out there for a while,” he said. “There were a couple of innings that could have gotten out of hand, but they didn’t. I was happy with the way it went.”

Justin Verlander, scheduled to start on opening day for Detroit, wasn’t quite as sharp as Lowe. The 19-game winner in 2009 gave up three runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. He also struck out three, walked one and committed a balk while throwing 85 pitches.

“Tremendous stuff, but he’s got to be more efficient,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That’s his next hurdle. He still needs to learn how to get some easier outs with less effort.”

Brian McCann raised his average to .500 by going 2 for 3 for the Braves. Nate McLouth had two hits and two RBIs, and is 4 for 9 in his past three games after a 1-for-35 start.

“He’s starting to come around a little bit,” Cox said.

Top prospect Jason Heyward went 2 for 4 on the same day Cox said he would be the opening-day right fielder.

Brandon Inge and Gerald Laird each had two hits for Detroit. Inge is batting .346 and Laird is hitting .300.

NOTES: The Braves announced that minor league pitcher Deunte Heath had been suspended indefinitely after he was charged with two prostitution-related misdemeanors following a sting conducted not far from the team’s spring training facility. ... Atlanta slugger Troy Glaus, converting from third base to first, was charged with his first error of the spring when he botched a grounder in the fifth inning. Atlanta relievers Peter Moylan and Jo-Jo Reyes each worked a scoreless inning in a minor league spring game.

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