Astros 8, Braves 3

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 09, 2012
Travis Buck drove in two runs, Justin Maxwell homered in his Houston debut and the Astros rebounded from an early deficit thanks to sloppy defensive play by the Atlanta Braves in an 8-3 win on Monday night. The loss drops Atlanta to 0-4 for the first time since losing 10 straight to open the 1988 season. The Astros are 3-1 after finishing last season with baseball's worst record. Houston trailed 3-0 in the third before a trio of errors by the Braves, with two from third baseman Juan Francisco, led to three unearned runs and tied the game. Astros starter J.A. Happ drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the fourth inning that made it 4-3. Pinch-hitter J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve drove in a run each in the sixth to stretch the lead to 6-3. Happ (1-0) allowed six hits and three runs with five strikeouts in six innings for the win. Braves starter Brandon Beachy (0-1) allowed four hits and four runs - one earned - in five innings. Maxwell, acquired from the Yankees on Sunday, hit a towering two-run homer as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. Francisco, who the Braves acquired from Cincinnati on April 1, had three of Atlanta's errors starting in place of Chipper Jones, who is on the disabled list. The Astros got four hits and drove in two runs in the sixth inning off Livan Hernandez, who signed with the Braves after he was released by the Astros in spring training. Houston relievers Wesley Wright, Fernando Rodriguez and David Carpenter combined to allow one hit in three scoreless innings. Rookie Marwin Gonzalez, who had three hits and scored three runs, doubled in the fourth before Happ helped his cause with his run-scoring single to right field that gave Houston a 4-3 lead. Beachy walked Jordan Schafer with two outs in the third before Altuve reached on a fielding error by Francisco. A second error by Francisco on the same play, this time on the throw to third, allowed Schafer to advance to third. Buck followed with a two-RBI double to get Houston within 3-2. He reached third on the play after an error by Tyler Pastornicky. Lee tied it 3-3 with single to center field which scored Buck. Beachy finally got out of the inning when Brian Bogusevic grounded out. Martin Prado doubled in the third and scored on a single by Brian McCann to push Atlanta's lead to 3-0. Happ got on track after McCann's RBI, retiring the next 11 in a row, striking out five. He didn't allow another base runner until Matt Diaz walked with two outs in the sixth, but Francisco lined out to end the inning. Freddie Freeman singled with one out in the second before Matt Diaz grounded into a force out that left Freeman out at second. The Braves then hit three consecutive singles, with the last two by Pastornicky and Beachy driving in runs, to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead. NOTES: The Astros optioned LHP Fernando Abad to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday to make room on the roster for Maxwell. ... Former Astros star Craig Biggio helped Houston honor Jones, who said he will retire at the end of this season, before the game. Biggio presented Jones with a cowboy hat as footage of his many memorable games against the Astros played on the video screen. Jones is on the disabled list after surgery March 26 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, but expects to be activated on Tuesday.
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