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Sunday February 14th, 2016 1:03AM
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Cosart throws 2 hitless innings, Astros top Braves

By The Associated Press
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Jarred Cosart pitched two shutout innings and Carlos Corporan had a pair of RBIs to lead the Houston Astros past an Atlanta Braves split squad 7-4 on Sunday.

It was the first spring training home game for the Astros, who finished last in the AL West last season. They went 51-111, their third straight year with 100 or more losses.

"I like what I've seen so far," manager Bo Porter said. "We are playing great defensively and I like the way we are running the bases."

Jordan Schafer had two more hits for the Braves to raise his spring average to .455. Schafer, who stole 22 bases in 94 games for Atlanta last season, is competing for one of the final outfield spots.

STARTING TIME: Braves: David Hale pitched two innings and allowed two hits and an earned run while striking out three. Hale, who had a 0.82 ERA in two starts last year for the Braves, is fighting for a slot at the end of the Braves rotation. Julio Teheran, Kris Medlen, and Mike Minor should have spots already locked up while Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood have the inside shot at the final two. Hale said he still thinks he can crack the rotation. "All I can do is my best," Hale said. "If I throw my best, I think I have a shot."

Astros: Cosart led the American League in ERA after his debut on July 12 last season. He made a slight change in his delivery during the offseason and said he felt the positive effect in his spring debut.

"It felt a little strange at first, but everything is working out," Cosart said. "Stromie (pitching coach Brent Strom) worked with me and I'm starting lower with my delivery. It was great to get the first start out of the way."

Porter said he's noticed the change in Cosart's delivery.

"It was a small change but one that seems to be working," Porter said. "A lot of pitchers can get into trouble, but the thing about him is that he knows how to get out of it."

TRAINERS ROOM: Braves: Right fielder Justin Upton went 0 for 1 with a walk in his spring debut. He had been battling tenderness in his right side.

BREAKING OUT: Braves center fielder B.J. Upton slammed a long double off the top of the left-center field wall. It was his first hit in six at-bats this spring. Upton was supposed to join his brother, Justin Upton, to add power and speed to the top of the Atlanta lineup last year, but he struggled all season. He batted only .184 with nine homers and 26 RBIs.

THE WHEELS ON THE BUS: Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez could have stayed back at Walt Disney World where the Braves were playing a split squad game against the Detroit Tigers, but he chose to make the road trip so he could get a look at Hale. He only brought four players who are expected to be in the starting lineup on opening day and David Carpenter is the only other pitcher expected to go north.

ROUGHED UP: Astros pitcher Chad Qualls, who pitched in 66 games with a 2.61 ERA for the Miami Marlins, made his spring debut but allowed three hits and two earned runs in one inning.
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