Spring Training: Braves beat Astros, 6-5 (2015)

The Atlanta Braves broke out the bats early and then held on for a 6-5 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday. Andrelton Simmons and Christian Bethancourt each drove in three runs as Wandy Rodriguez provided four shut-out innings in his third start of the spring.

At the plate: The Braves didn’t wait around to get on the board against Collin McHugh (0-1). Three consecutive singles from Eric Young Jr., Jace Peterson and Simmons plated an immediate run in the first inning. Bethancourt provided a sacrifice to make it 2-0 advantage. That quartet was at it again in the third inning. Young singled and Peterson walked to set up Simmons for another run-scoring single. Bethancourt followed with a two-run double that pushed the lead to 5-0. Ahead 5-3 in the fifth inning, Simmons connected for his first home run of the spring. It capped a three-hit game with three RBI and a pair of runs scored for the Atlanta shortstop.

On the mound: Rodriguez (2-0) worked four scoreless innings and allowed just two hits, though he walked three to go along with a pair of strikeouts. The going was not as good for Chien-Ming Wang, who struck out the first batter he faced and then allowed six consecutive men to reach as the Astros put together a three-run rally. Lefty Brady Feigl came on to induce inning-ending double play, but labored through the sixth. Feigl allowed a solo-homer to Colby Rasmus and had to work out of a bases-loaded jam of his own to keep it a 6-4 game. Craig Kimbrel made just his second Grapefruit League appearance, working around a pair of two-out walks and a wild pitch to toss a scoreless seventh inning. Jim Johnson allowed a hit and a walk, but flashed a pretty good sinker to retire Houston in the eighth. Justin Jackson surrendered a home run to Brett Phillips in the ninth before closing out the 6-5 victory.

What they said: Quotes from the Braves following the win over the Astros.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez on catcher Christian Bethancourt: “Bethancourt continues swinging a nice bat, but that’s not what I’m really worried about or care about. I’d like for him to continue what he’s doing, and that is handing a major league pitching staff and taking that responsibility, and he’s doing that like he should.”

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons on getting over his strained oblique: “I did my work in the off-season. I got just enough swings. As soon as I was free to swing in the cages I took as many as I could without overdoing it, which I know how to do very well. But yeah, I got enough and [I’m] seeing the ball really well. Didn’t miss my pitches tonight.”

Of note: Former Braves catcher Evan Gattis faced his old team for the first time. Serving as the designated hitter, he struck out, popped out and collected an RBI-single before departing for a pinch-runner in the top of the fifth… Andrelton Simmons is 5-for-9 so far this spring…  Second baseman Jace Peterson left the game after fouling a ball off his leg in the second inning. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was a precautionary move. Peterson likely has “a pretty good bruise” according to Gonzalez. The team will monitor Peterson’s progress over the next couple of days.

Up Next: Braves vs. Blue Jays — Sunday, March 15, at 1:05 PM

RHP Julio Teheran vs. RHP Marco Estrada

Grant McAuley covers the Braves for Sports Radio 92-9 The Game. Follow Grant on Twitter.

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