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Porcello picks up where he left off

Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner goes three scoreless in debut
Special to MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Red Sox starter Rick Porcello showed little rust Friday in a 9-1 win over the Braves, his first Major League action since winning the 2016 American League Cy Young Award.

Atlanta's lineup featured Major Leaguers from top to bottom, but they managed only two hits against Porcello, who struck out four of them in three scoreless innings.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Red Sox starter Rick Porcello showed little rust Friday in a 9-1 win over the Braves, his first Major League action since winning the 2016 American League Cy Young Award.

Atlanta's lineup featured Major Leaguers from top to bottom, but they managed only two hits against Porcello, who struck out four of them in three scoreless innings.

"I like facing guys that have some experience, guys that I'm going to face during the season," Porcello said. "It's not always about that, but it is nice to go out there against these guys and see how your stuff's doing."

Dansby Swanson singled sharply to left field with one out in the top of the first, but Porcello stranded him there after getting Freddie Freeman to fly out to left field and Matt Kemp to strike out looking.

In the second inning, Nick Markakis led off with a bloop double near the left-field line, and Brandon Phillips advanced him to third via a groundout to second. But Porcello escaped by striking out Jace Peterson looking and then inducing a flyout to center field from Kurt Suzuki.

"It was a good situation to be in," Porcello said. "It helped me get into the mode of trying to slow the game down, especially when an inning starts like that. It felt good to get out of that situation, honestly."

Porcello had no trouble in the third inning, though, striking out Tyler Flowers and Ender Inciarte before Swanson flied out to right field. He finished with 40 pitches, 27 for strikes.

"It's a pleasure to watch Rick pitch," manager John Farrell said. "His ability to command the baseball ... the pace of the game when men got on base, his varying of hold times, just in complete control once again. He used all of his pitches in three quality innings of work, a very good starting point."

Farrell said Porcello's bullpen sessions have been sharp since the beginning of camp, so Friday was a result of proper preparation on and off the mound.

"He knows what his body is about," Farrell said, "and I think by the third inning today, he was probably feeling a little more on time with his delivery."

If all goes according to plan, Porcello's next start will be Wednesday, when the Red Sox travel to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets.

Zak Kerr is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Red Sox on Friday.

Boston Red Sox, Rick Porcello