Verlander throws 2 shutout inning as Tigers top Braves

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Justin Verlander threw two shutout innings in his spring debut as the Detroit Tigers roughed up Shelby Miller and topped the Atlanta Braves' split squad 12-6 Saturday.

Verlander allowed one hit, struck out two and walked two. The former AL MVP was 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA last year.

''I feel like it's back to normal,'' he said. ''For the first start of the spring, it was all right. I got my competitive juices flowing now.'

Verlander said he is already working on his curve and he hasn't forgotten his struggles of last season.

''I wasn't as good last year, so I am humble and ready for a new season. This year I have something to prove.''

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he has no worries about Verlander.

''He has that curve going and is slider is getting harder every day. I have no doubts about him,'' he said.

Miller, acquired from St. Louis in the offseason trade for Jason Heyward, started for Atlanta and retired only one batter. He gave up three hits, walked two and was tagged for four runs.

Miller said he felt that his stuff was working, but he had no issue with being yanked after retiring only one batter in his first start.

''Physically, I feel fine,'' he said. ''I was throwing the ball good and in spring training you get some good days and bad days. I was trying to overthrow, but there's lots of time to work on those things.''

Miller went 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA last season and was brought to Atlanta to be a third starter behind Julio Teheran and Alex Wood.

Acting manager Carlos Tosca said he wasn't concerned and said Miller shouldn't be, either.

''He was just pumped up to pitch,'' Tosca said. ''It was his first time and in spring training, these things will happen.''

Anthony Gose had three hits for Detroit, scored twice and drove in two runs. He is hitting .636 this spring.

The Tigers picked up Gose in a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays during the winter. He batted .226 for the Blue Jays in 2014.

Hernan Perez had three hits and three RBIs and Nick Castellanos added two hits and two RBIs for Detroit.

Joey Terdoslavich hit two doubles and scored twice for Atlanta.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Tigers: SS Jose Iglesias, who missed all of 2014 with stress fractures in both legs, didn't make the trip. Newcomer Yoenis Cespedes was back in the lineup after dealing with lower back tightness. He scored a run and had an RBI.

Braves: LHP Mike Minor is experiencing shoulder discomfort and is out indefinitely, Gonzalez said he wouldn't have Minor's latest update until Monday.

UP NEXT

Tigers: Shane Greene will start for the Tigers in Lakeland against Dan Straily of the Houston Astros. Greene was 5-4 in 14 starts for the New York Yankees last season.

Braves: Nonroster pitcher Cody Martin will start at Kissimmee against Houston.

SO CLOSE

Braves: CF Todd Cunningham impressed Tosca with his hustle and his bat. Cunningham, who played all of 2014 with Triple-A Gwinnett, is a candidate for an opening in the Braves' outfield. He had two hits and reached base four times. He also jumped to reach far above the fence, barely missing a home run by Daniel Fields.

GOOD START

Veteran Joe Nathan was brought in as a free agent by the Tigers last season to be their long-awaited closer, but he struggled the first half of the season. Against the Braves, he threw another scoreless inning and Ausmus said he was pleased with what he has seen so far.

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