Ruf hits homer for Phils
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Darin Ruf hit a different kind of walkoff home run.
The Phillies prospect launched a solo shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6, then walked off to the minor league camp.
Philadelphia assigned Ruf to Triple-A after the win.
“It kind of caught me off-guard a little bit, but it’s part of the game,” Ruf said. “They’re not disappointed in anything I’ve done so far. It’s just that I need to get out there and play left field on a daily basis.”
The 26-year-old Ruf hit 38 home runs in Double-A last year and hit three more in a late-season call-up by the Phillies.
Left field is something Ruf, who has struggled in the glove department this spring, will have to improve on in Triple-A this season.
But it was Ruf’s bat, and the bat of Atlanta prospect Evan Gattis, that made the most noise on Friday.
Gattis hit home runs in consecutive innings to tie the game at 4. The young catcher had three hits and drove in three runs. He’s hit four homers this spring.
B.J. Upton hit a home run an inning later to give the Braves a 5-4 lead.
“Gattis got his swing back again, which is good to see,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Two home runs and a little bloop that he muscled out there. And he caught the ball well. Good, productive day.”
Erik Kratz doubled twice as the Phillies took a 4-0 lead.
Jonathan Papelbon earned the win after a perfect ninth inning with a strikeout.
Paul Maholm turned in a solid performance over six innings for the Braves, scattering seven hits for four unearned runs.
He struck out five.
Adam Morgan started for Philadelphia, a couple of weeks after he was reassigned to the minor league camp. The Phillies had him pitch to give some arms a rest.
Morgan went 4 2-3 innings, giving up four hits and a run. He struck out five against the Braves, who he grew up rooting for in Marietta, Ga.
Morgan could be in line for big league consideration if one the Phillies starters is out this year.
“How awesome was that?” Morgan said. “Even if it is spring training, I can say I pitched pretty well against the Braves.”
Belt homers twice, has 4 RBIs in Giants’ win
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Brandon Belt had two homers among his four hits and four RBIs as the San Francisco Giants roughed up the Colorado Rockies 11-6 on Friday.
Belt went 4 for 4 to raise his spring average to.439. He had a two-run double and a single to go with the pair of long balls.
Hunter Pence, Nick Noonan and Mark Minicozzi also homered for the Giants, who had 15 hits.
It was a bad day for Colorado pitching. Rockies starter Christian Friedrich allowed two of the homers to the Giants. And in Surprise, opening day starter Jhoulys Chacin was scratched from his start against the Texas Rangers because of back spasms.
Chacin reported the back problems on Thursday and the Rockies opted to scratch him as a precaution in favor of Tyler Chatwood against the Rangers.
Kershaw pitches 6 innings for Dodgers
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Clayton Kershaw struck out eight over six innings in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.
Kershaw, slated to start on opening day, allowed three runs and four hits. He walked three, including the first two batters he faced.
Luis Cruz hit a three-run homer in the first and a solo shot in the fourth for Los Angeles. Both drives came off Mike Leake, who won the last spot in Cincinnati’s rotation when manager Dusty Baker announced Friday that Aroldis Chapman was returning to the closer role.
Leake allowed four runs and five hits, and Chapman followed with a scoreless sixth inning.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig left in the fifth inning after he got the wind knocked out of him attempting to make a diving catch on Brandon Phillips’ liner.
Barney homers as Cubs beat Brewers 4-1
PHOENIX (AP) — All in all, it was a really nice day for Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva. Just don’t ask him about that one walk on his line.
Villanueva threw six scoreless innings in the Cubs’ 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.
“I had that one walk and I’m furious about it,” he said. “I hate giving up those free runners. I don’t know what the percentage is but they almost always score. It sounds weird but I’d almost rather give up a home run than a walk because if they’re going to score, at least they’re going to earn it.”
No one scored against Villanueva, who allowed five singles and struck out four in his best outing of the spring. The right-hander, who signed a $10 million, two-year contract with the Cubs in the offseason, had allowed eight runs and 15 hits in 11 2-3 innings across his four prior starts.
Villanueva, who was 13-11 in two seasons as a part-time starter in Toronto, is slated for the last spot in what he believes is a vastly improved rotation for Chicago.
“I think it’s a good mix of veteran guys who have been around a couple teams now so we know how it is,” Villanueva said. “We may not have all the aces but we have a rotation that will keep us around games. Hopefully, one of us turns into that other ace or couple aces that we need.”
Villanueva also helped the Cubs score their only run against Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo in the fifth. Luis Valbuena moved to second on Villanueva’s sacrifice and scored when Donnie Murphy failed to make a sliding, backhand catch of a high pop fly to shallow left field for an error.
Gallardo yielded the unearned run and four hits in 5 1-3 innings. He has one spring outing left before taking the mound for his fourth straight opening-day start.
“They stay the same,” Gallardo said. “It’s opening day. We’re all excited and ready to get started. Fans are excited and there’s that extra adrenaline that first game. Just got to find a way to stay relaxed and pitch like it’s any other game.”
Khris Davis connected in the seventh for his sixth home run for Milwaukee, but Darwin Barney and Dioner Navarro hit consecutive homers with two out in the ninth inning for Chicago.
Barney belted a two-run shot before Navarro connected against Michael Olmsted to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
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