Freeman, Uggla look strong as Braves fall to Astros
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Dexter Fowler made a solid first impression with a two-hit performance that helped the Astros kick off their Grapefruit League season with a 7-5 win over the Braves on Friday night at Champion Stadium.
Fowler, who was acquired from the Rockies in December, chased Brandon Beachy in the second inning with a bases-loaded two-run single. Fowler's single to right field allowed the Astros to erase the early deficit they incurred when Lucas Harrell issued a bases-loaded walk to Dan Uggla in the first inning.
The Astros produced a decisive two-run sixth inning against J.R. Graham, a highly regarded pitching prospect who missed most of last season with a sore right shoulder. Graham allowed three hits, including doubles by Max Stassi and Marwin Gonzalez, while recording just two outs.
After Freddie Freeman lined a game-tying single off right-handed pitcher Matt Albers' glove in the fourth inning, the Astros regained the lead with a two-run fifth inning. Marc Krauss and Chris Carter highlighted the frame with RBI doubles against Braves right-handed setup man Jordan Walden.
"The bats will come," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after seeing his team fall to 0-3 in Grapefruit League play. "I think the pitchers are a little bit ahead of the hitters right now."
Despite issuing four walks in his two-inning stint, Astros starter Harrell limited his damage to the one run he surrendered in the first inning. Beachy surrendered five hits and recorded just five outs before being lifted after he exceeded his pitch count during Fowler's second-inning at-bat. The Atlanta right-hander was making his first appearance since having a bone chip removed from his right elbow in September.
Up next: Julio Teheran will make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday when the Braves travel to face the Nationals in Viera, Fla. Atlanta won four of the five games Teheran started against Washington last season. Bullpen candidates Anthony Varvaro, Ryan Buchter, Shae Simmons and Juan Jaime are among the other pitchers scheduled to pitch for the Braves.