We may only be a week into Spring Training, but the Houston Astros are playing like they're trying to impress someone. On Saturday afternoon, they improved to 5-2 on the Spring with a narrow 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Houston starter Dallas Keuchel went two innings, and allowed three hits with a strikeout. But it was the three-inning performance of right-hander Philip Humber that earned the victory. He allowed one run on one hit, while striking out three batters. Jose Valdez picked up his first save of the spring.
For the Braves, Sean Gilmartin is credited with the loss. He went three innings, and was tagged for a total of four runs on six hits and allowed a home run. He did manage to strike out three batters along the way.
Offensively, most of Houston's damage came in the fourth inning. Already up 1-0, Fernando Martinez singled into center field to score Justin Maxwell. Moments later, Gilmartin gave up a two-run blast to JD Martinez. By the end of the fourth, the Astros had built a 5-1 lead.
Atlanta tried to make some noise in the later innings. In the top of the seventh, they got RBI singles from Joey Terdoslavich and Todd Cunningham. A run also scored when Jordan Parraz grounded into a double play. They touched Houston for three runs in the inning, and had pulled to within a run. But Houston tacked on another run in the bottom half of the inning to stretch out a 6-4 lead.
In the top of the ninth, Atlanta tried to play hero but fell just short. Parraz opened the inning with a line drive to center, landing him with a double. Todd Cunningham reached base on an infield single, putting Parraz at third. Then things went downhill from there.
Evan Gattis was able to hit a sac fly to allow Parraz to cross the plate, but that would be as close as they would get. Jose Valdez struck out Blake Dewitt, but catcher Jason Jaramillo was able to gun down Cunningham as he was trying to steal second.
The strikeout/throw-out double play ended the game and sent Braves fans home in less than a smiling mood. Valdez allowed just the one run in working the final frame.
Atlanta and Houston are both in action on Sunday, as the Braves will host Detroit and Houston will play Pittsburgh. Both games are scheduled for 1:05 P.M. Eastern.