KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Derek Lowe got off to a solid start after a rough first season in Atlanta, pitching two hitless innings in the Braves' 11-8 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday.
Atlanta's new closer, Billy Wagner, did not fare so well. He gave up three hits and two runs in the third inning.
Yunel Escobar went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored and Melky Cabrera had two hits and an RBI for the Braves. Rookie outfielder Jason Heyward had a hit and stole his second base of the spring.
Ian Desmond homered and drove in six runs for the Nationals.
Washington starter Miguel Batista gave up two runs on three hits and two walks in two innings.
FSU ROUTS GEORGIA IN OPENER:
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. --- Third-ranked Florida State hit three home runs and got seven strong innings from Sean Gilmartin to cruise to a 12-1 win over No. 25 Georgia Friday in front of a crowd of 4,377 at Dick Howser Stadium.
The Seminoles remained perfect on the year at 8-0 while the Bulldogs fell to 6-4. Gilmartin improved to 3-0 as he tied his career-high with nine strikeouts, scattered six hits, and one unearned run and did not walk a batter. FSU right fielder James Ramsey hit two home runs and drove in four runs to pace the Seminoles 14-hit attack.
With freshman shortstop Kyle Farmer out for the fourth straight game due to a wrist injury, Georgia's infield woes continued Friday as the Seminoles pushed across two unearned runs on three hits and an error in the second. With one out, Sherman Johnson singled and second baseman Justin Gonzalez followed with a chopper off the plate that third baseman Kevin Ruiz fielded and his throw was high and off the mark. The error allowed Johnson to score and Gonzalez to take second and a batter later a wild pitch moved him to third. With two outs, Jayce Boyd bounced one up the middle that shortstop Colby May got a glove on but failed to come up with, resulting in an infield hit and scoring Gonzalez for a 2-0 lead. Ramsey led off the bottom of the third by hitting the first pitch from junior Justin Grimm over the right field fence for his first home run. Then with two outs, Gonzalez added a three-run blast on the first pitch he saw to extend the Seminoles lead to 6-0.
Georgia pushed across a run in the fourth as sophomore right fielder Peter Verdin extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a leadoff single and took second on a throwing error by Gilmartin. After advancing to third on a groundout by Chase Davidson, Verdin scored on a sacrifice fly by Zach Cone to make it 6-1. FSU answered courtesy of another home run by Ramsey, this one a three-run shot in the fourth for a 9-1 lead.
Grimm was lifted after four innings, allowing nine runs (seven earned) on 11 hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He got the loss to that evened his record to 1-1 on the year. Sophomore Evan Tieles started the bottom of the fifth and recorded just one out before giving way to senior Steve Esmonde who inherited a bases loaded jam and an 11-1 deficit. Cone ran down a deep fly ball at the wall in centerfield off the bat of Stuart Tapley for a sacrifice fly and then Esmonde got Johnson to ground out to end the frame with the Bulldogs trailing 12-1. Esmonde provided the Bulldogs with 2.2 innings of scoreless relief.
"We're not doing anything very well right now, pitching, defending the field, hitting," said Georgia coach David Perno. "I know we're a better team than what we've showed these last two games. We just have to regroup. We've got a lot of guys struggling, and we'll see how we respond the rest of the weekend."
Georgia sophomore Johnathan Taylor tied his career high with a three-hit game, the fifth time he has done that including the second time this year. In the sixth, Georgia made a defensive switch, moving May to second base and freshman second baseman Todd Hankins to shortstop. They turned two double plays over the final three frames. Bulldog freshman infielder Chance Veazey, a native of nearby Tifton who is currently paralyzed from the waist down due to a scooter accident, joined his teammates in the dugout for the game. He plans to attend the entire three-game series. Farmer, who also leads the Bulldogs in batting at .458, is expected to be out three to six weeks due to the wrist injury.
"Johnathan (Taylor) had some great at-bats and had a terrific game but nobody really fed off of that," Perno added. "We have what we have right now, and baseball is a long season and hopefully, we'll get better, we're just not playing real well right now."
The series continues today with first pitch slated for 6 p.m. The Bulldogs will start senior right-hander Jeff Walters (0-0, 5.91 ERA) while the Seminoles counter with junior left-hander John Gast (2-0, 1.64 ERA).