Braves Set To Open Season Tomorrow

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) -- Mike Hampton made it through the final game of
spring training without any problems. Now, it's on to his first
regular-season start since 2005.

Hampton pitched three innings for Atlanta, allowing four hits
and a run in the Braves' 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians today
in a game that was called in the seventh inning because of rain. Jake Westbrook wrapped up a perfect spring with four scoreless innings. The right-hander pitched 18 innings this spring without allowing a run, giving up just seven hits, walking six and striking out 20.

The numbers weren't as important to Hampton, who missed the last
two seasons after two major elbow operations. Hampton will make his first start on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Braves are counting on him to bolster a rotation that didn't have much depth a year ago beyond Tim Hudson and John Smoltz.

Two of the four hits off Hampton were infield singles. He gave
up three straight hits in the second with two outs, including Casey
Blake's run-scoring single. The game was halted for 64 minutes because of heavy rain and lightning. When play resumed, the Indians scored three more runs in the sixth for a 4-0 lead, then allowed five runs to the Braves during a sloppy seventh with the rain coming down harder and harder. After Atlanta went ahead on Brent Lillibridge's RBI single, Cleveland manager Eric Wedge came out to make a pitching change. Instead, the teams decided to call the game to prevent the risk of injury on the damp field.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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