Fowler gets 3 hits, leads Astros over Braves 7-5

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 24, 2014 at 9:44 pm •  Published: March 24, 2014
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — New Houston center fielder Dexter Fowler, hitting .318 this spring, was 3 for 3 with a walk in leading the Astros to a 7-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

"I felt good," said Fowler, acquired from Colorado during the offseason. "I came out and in the beginning (of spring training) I was trying to experiment with some things. I just went back to basics and got locked back in."

Chris Johnson, Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman homered for the Braves, with Johnson and Upton connected for back-to-back shots in a four-run first inning off Dallas Keuchel.

Freeman added a single and walk in three plate appearances and is batting .400.

Jose Altuve, Robbie Grossman and L.J. Hoes had two hits apiece for the Astros.

Braves starter David Hale allowed 12 hits and six runs in 5 1-3 innings.

"It was just one of those games," said Hale, bidding for a spot in the Braves' injury-depleted rotation. "I've got to put it behind me."

Hale walked two, including Keuchel in a three-run fourth, and struck out four. He also threw two wild pitches.

"For me, the negative was walking the pitcher," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel pitched in back-to-back games for the first time this spring. He allowed a ninth-inning run on a double by Jason Castro and a sacrifice fly.

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After giving up the homers to Johnson and Upton in the first inning, Keuchel recovered to retire his last five batters. He struck out seven in four innings.

"I just kind of worked through it," the left-hander said. "I think I did a good job of battling the last three innings."

Keuchel, competing for one of two open spots in the Houston rotation, had three scoreless outings before giving up 13 hits and seven runs in four innings against Miami last week.

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