BRADENTON, Fla. -- Braves right-hander Aaron Blair made his fourth spring appearance and first start Friday. He went two innings, giving up three runs on four hits with two walks and one strikeout as Atlanta fell to Pittsburgh, 12-9."One thing I can take out of today is I fell behind
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Braves right-hander Aaron Blair made his fourth spring appearance and first start Friday. He went two innings, giving up three runs on four hits with two walks and one strikeout as Atlanta fell to Pittsburgh, 12-9.
"One thing I can take out of today is I fell behind early, so guys were just swinging," Blair said. "Changeup was good, arm-side fastball was good, but everything to the glove side was kind of pulled. So that's stuff I'll work on this coming week."
After Jordy Mercer reached on a one-out single and Gregory Polanco doubled to right in the first inning, Blair yielded a walk to Josh Bell. Starling Marte struck out, but Corey Dickerson tripled to right on a ball that eluded right fielder Preston Tucker, clearing the bases, before Colin Moran lined out to end the inning.
Manager Brian Snitker was satisfied with Blair's outing.
"He threw some good changeups. I thought his breaking ball was OK," Snitker said. "He kind of settled in. In the first inning, if that ball had been 10 feet over, toward center field, he'd have got out of it. That was some tough luck right there. But it was OK overall."
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Blair said he felt no extra pressure with the start.
"No, not at all," Blair said. "Whether I start in Atlanta or start in [Triple-A] Gwinnett, I still got to pitch, got to get outs. So my job is to come out and get better every day."
In seven combined spring innings, Blair has a 5.14 ERA, allowing four runs on 10 hits with three walks, a hit batter and two strikeouts. He is returning from a torn right lat muscle he suffered in his final start of the 2017 season.
"I'm pleased with how it's going so far," Blair said. "Coming off an injury, I feel good. Coming back, the ball's coming out well. Just kind of [working on] repeating my mechanics and being more consistent in the strike zone."
Right-hander Matt Wisler threw 3 1/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits, including a home run, with no walks and two strikeouts. He stranded the one runner he inherited.
"I know it's a Spring Training game, but he extended, threw all his pitches," Snitker said. "It was OK."
Blair and Wisler are in the mix for a bullpen spot, possibly as a long reliever.
"Like everybody else, they're competing for one of the bullpen jobs," Snitker said. "We'll decide. We're going to keep playing this thing out and running them out there the next week and a half or whatever, and just see who we end up taking."
Blair said he doesn't worry about the competition.
"I try not to look at it," Blair said. "Try to focus on myself and let the guys -- coaches and front office -- determine who's going where and whatnot."
This and that
• Rob Brantly went 2-for-4 with two solo homers. He is now tied with Ronald Acuna Jr. for the team lead with three big flies.
• There were 11 home runs in the game, six by Atlanta batters. In addition to Brantly, Ozzie Albies hit two -- one from each side of the plate -- and Jaff Decker and Lane Adams each hit one.
• Johan Camargo, the Braves' expected starting third baseman, remains sidelined after leaving Monday's game against the Phillies with a stiff back. Snitker said Camargo's return to the lineup is likely still a few days away.
"I saw him this morning [and] he said he felt really good, so we'll see," Snitker said. "It's going to be after the off-day [on Tuesday], probably. But he said he feels good, so that's good."
• Left-hander Luiz Gohara, who has been sidelined for most of camp, first with a groin strain and then with a sprained left ankle, is progressing.
"He's doing really good," Snitker said. "He's playing catch. He hasn't done covering first, actually, on the mound, but they're keeping his arm going with catch. Actually, I think it's healing quicker than they thought it would. So he's probably ahead of where they thought he might be, so that's good.
"The big thing right now is just keeping his arm going. Obviously, he was behind anyway, so we're going to have to start that process again."
The Braves have split-squad games on Saturday. Left-hander Sean Newcomb is scheduled to start at home against the Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Luke Weaver is scheduled to start for St. Louis.
Right-hander Lucas Sims will start against the Phillies in Clearwater at 1:05 p.m. ET. Snitker plans to be with the team at home, while bench coach Walt Weiss will be the acting manager at Clearwater. Both games will be broadcast live on MLB.TV.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com.