partlycloudy
Thursday May 28th, 2015 6:04AM

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

By The Associated Press
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- 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.

STARTING TIME

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.

The long three-run homer to center field by Johnson came on an 0-2 count.

"You can't take your foot off the gas," Keuchel said. "I didn't spot a high fastball and CJ hit it out."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Braves catcher Evan Gattis, who hadn't played since March 17 because of sore right quadriceps, returned to the lineup. He caught six innings and went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Left-hander Mike Minor, out all spring with shoulder tendinitis, is scheduled to pitch when the Braves play a team of top minor league prospects Saturday in Rome, Ga. Minor hopes to be able to join the rotation in late April.

Right-hander Gavin Floyd, signed as a free agent after major elbow surgery a year ago, is slated to make his spring debut in a minor league game Friday. Like Minor, he could be ready to pitch by the end of April.

UP NEXT

Ervin Santana, who signed late with the Braves after they lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to injury, will make his second spring start Tuesday against Detroit in Lakeland. The right-hander pitched two innings against the New York Mets last Thursday, allowing two hits and a run.

ROSTER MOVES

Atlanta signed veteran right-hander Aaron Harang for the rotation after releasing Freddy Garcia. The Braves also sent five players to Triple-A Gwinnett: outfielders Jose Constanza and Joey Terdoslavich, infielders Tyler Greene and Tommy La Stella, and left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter. The team has 29 active players, four over the regular-season season maximum.

The Astros have 30 active players after releasing veteran infielder Cesar Izturis and sending pitcher Josh Zeid, catcher Rene Garcia and outfielder Adron Chambers to minor league camp.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 4 months ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 4 months ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 4 months ago )
Sports
Pits will be tight as Chili Bowl entry count hits 316
TULSA, OK - The 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals presented by General Tire is on track to be a record smashing event, with the entry count climbing over the 300 mark for the first time to 316 entries confirming 303 drivers for the indoor spectacular happening Tuesday, January 13 through Saturday, January 17 at the Tulsa Expo Center in Tulsa, OK.
9:59AM ( 4 months ago )
Falcons fire Mike Smith after 2nd straight losing season
Mike Smith's status as the winningest coach in Falcons history wasn't enough to save his job. Owner Arthur Blank said he fired Smith on Monday because in his "heart of hearts" he didn't believe Smith could take the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
7:58PM ( 4 months ago )
New promoters in place for 2015 at Senoia Raceway
SENOIA, GA - Lease papers have been signed and a team of new promoters is in place for the upcoming stock car racing season at Senoia Raceway in Senoia, GA.
6:00AM ( 4 months ago )
Professional Sports
Opinion: Gainesville's heroic effort a worthy cap to an astounding prep season
Any coach, athlete, parent or booster that follows prep sports witnessed some amazing moments over the last few weeks -- from championships (some historic), to heartbreak and everything in between, as area teams and individuals provided us with a stunning finish to the 2014-15 high school sports campaign.
6:13PM ( 12 hours from now )
Baseball: GHS falls to Greenbrier in Game 3 (VIDEO)
In the end, it was wasn’t worth the wait...
2:45PM ( 8 hours from now )
THE LATEST: Asian federation opposes change to FIFA election
ZURICH (AP) — The Latest on FIFA developments:___4:30 a.m. (0230 GMT, 10:30 p.m. EDT)The Asian Football Confederation says it still supports Sepp Blatter's bid for another term as FIFA president, and...
11:41PM ( 6 hours ago )
Hawks point to bright future even after playoff rout by Cavs
The season didn't end like they wanted. Not even close...
9:05PM ( 8 hours ago )
G-Braves SS faces rape, kidnapping charges in Ohio
A Gwinnett Braves baseball player is facing rape and kidnapping charges after an incident on the team's road series in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend.
2:26PM ( 15 hours ago )