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MLB: Braves win on Benson’s single

The Associated Press

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez still has several decisions to make over the next couple of days. He needs to fill out his starting rotation, settle on a suspect outfield and pick an opening-day second baseman.

One thing he doesn’t have to worry about is the top of his rotation.

Alex Wood allowed one run in five innings and the Braves beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 Thursday night on a game-winning single by Joe Benson in the bottom of the ninth.

Wood lowered his spring training ERA to 3.66 and solidified his spot as the No. 2 starter behind All-Star Julio Teheran. The left-hander gave up six hits and walked none while striking out four.

Wood hasn’t had a great spring, but said he’s never felt better than after his performance against the Orioles.

“It was a little different than any other outing this spring,” Wood said following his final Grapefruit League start. “I came back into the clubhouse and it was like the real regular season. I really felt the adrenaline.”

Wood went 11-11 with a 2.78 ERA as a rookie last year for Atlanta, entering the season at the back of the rotation. But injuries moved him up the ladder, and he will start next Tuesday against the Miami Marlins.

“Wood was great,” Gonzalez said. “When he pounds the strike zone like that, he’s tough.”

Wei-Yin Chen made his final spring start for Baltimore and allowed two runs in five innings. He struck out four, walked none and said he’s ready to get started this season.

“Yes, I would say so,” Chen said through a translator. “Last spring, my off-speed pitches were pretty good at first but it wasn’t all that consistent. This year, I was trying to fill it out and over this spring I felt better and better in mastering it. I talked to my teammates and coaches about how to throw it and how to grip it. And I think over this spring it’s been getting better and better.”

Benson, a non-roster outfielder just added to big league camp, had four hits in five at-bats. Nick Markakis ended an 0-for-17 slump with two singles against his former team, raising his batting average to .182. Eric Young Jr. scored twice for the Braves.

Manny Machado, Steve Pearce and Nolan Reimold each had two hits for the Orioles.

NEW ADDITION

Hoping to boost a staff that’s been hurt by injuries, the Braves acquired pitcher Trevor Cahill from Arizona. The Diamondbacks sent Cahill and cash to Atlanta for minor league outfielder Josh Elander.

The 27-year-old Cahill was 3-12 with a 5.61 ERA for Arizona last season. The right-hander was an All-Star with Oakland in 2010 and is 64-69 with a 4.07 ERA in six seasons.

Only Teheran, Wood and newcomer Shelby Miller are guaranteed spots in the Braves’ rotation. Mike Minor is out indefinitely with a sore shoulder.

Cahill has been bothered by shoulder stiffness, but Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella said it was “just minor wear and tear.”

“There are no red flags,” Coppolella said. “He’s going to give us a good shot to get us where we want to be.”

NO REGRETS

Markakis, who signed a $44 million, four-year contract with the Braves this winter after nine seasons in Baltimore, doesn’t have any second thoughts about the move.

“No, once they gave me the opportunity and presented me with the opportunity, it was a good opportunity for myself and my family. That was the most important thing. And they made me feel comfortable. That’s why I chose here,” Markakis said.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter grew close with Markakis.

“He’s a player that played for a team that I managed, but he was more than that. He’s a good human being and a good teammate, and we miss him,” Showalter said.

CLAIMED

RHP Logan Verrett, one of Baltimore’s two Rule 5 draft choices, was lost on waivers to Texas.

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