March 29, 2015

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Shelby Miller is settling in quite nicely with his new team.

Miller had his best outing of spring training in the Atlanta Braves' 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

Miller, who was acquired in the November trade that sent veteran outfielder Jason Heyward to St. Louis, allowed one run and one hit in six innings. The 24-year-old right-hander struck out four and walked one.

''He was tough as nails,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''It was nice to see that.''

Miller was selected by St. Louis in the first round of the 2009 draft and made his major league debut in 2012. He is 26-18 with a 3.33 ERA in three years in 69 career appearances.

Miller said playing for St. Louis and Atlanta are very similar.

''It's really all the same,'' he said. ''Both teams have winning reputations and are trying to win every year.''

The game was tied at 2 in the ninth when Pirates second baseman Jung-ho Kang hit a two-run drive for his second spring homer. The rookie went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.

''A very, very good day at the plate for him,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ''He stayed on a breaking ball and lined out hard, singled sharply to center, then got all of that fastball. Nothing can breed confidence like success.''

Chris Johnson went 2 for 2 for Atlanta, including his second spring homer. The Braves finished with three hits.

STARTING TIME

Pirates: Stolmy Pimentel made his first start of the spring and allowed a hit in two innings. He struck out one and walked none.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Braves: OF Nick Markakis continues to struggle with his recovery from fusion surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. He signed a $44 million, four-year contract with the Braves during the offseason and is batting .194.

UP NEXT

Pirates: Adrian Sampson will pitch on Monday against Philadelphia in the Pirates' final home game of the spring in Bradenton.

Braves: Mike Foltynewicz, trying to win a spot in Atlanta's rotation, will make his final start of the spring on Monday against Detroit. Foltynewicz was acquired in the January trade that sent Evan Gattis to Houston.

BALKING ABOUT BALKS

Atlanta right-hander Jason Grilli was called for two balks in the seventh inning, and one eventually led to a run. The veteran reliever was unhappy after the game, but not as unhappy as Braves coach Terry Pendleton, who argued after the end of the inning and was promptly ejected from the game.

''He has a funky delivery,'' Gonzalez said. ''It's all how the umpires interpret things. I would love to know how many times (Grilli) has been called for balks in his career.''

As for the Pendleton ejection, Gonzalez simply said: ''It's just one other person's opinion on the balk rule.''

GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE

Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows likely will begin the season in the minors, but the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 draft felt great after hitting a long triple. His spring batting average is .111, but he said he's getting the hang of things.

''I'm just trying to take all the chances I can get,'' Meadows said. ''I am just doing what I can to be comfortable. This camp has been great, but I know I am probably going to (Single-A) Bradenton. I feel 100 percent now and I am ready to go.''

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