Houston Astros' J.D. Martinez reacts after striking out with runners on base during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, April 10, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 12:54 am
Weiland struggles as Braves beat Astros 6-4
The Associated Press
Weiland, who joined the Astros in an offseason trade from Boston, allowed eight hits and four runs in five innings in a 6-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
"I think this one is on me," Weiland said. "As a starter, you are supposed to get to the sixth or seventh inning and save your bullpen."
Chipper Jones came off the disabled list and began his final season in the majors with a single and a two-run homer to help the Atlanta Braves get their first win of the season.
The nearly 40-year-old Jones didn't look a bit rusty in his return after missing Atlanta's first four games following surgery on March 26 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The switch-hitter, who plans to retire at the end of this season, singled in his first at-bat and hit a left-handed homer - the 455th overall of his career - in the third inning to put the Braves up 3-1.
Houston manager Brad Mills knows the third inning was the game's turning point.
"It seemed like you could really nail it down to one inning and that was the third inning," Mills said. "They scored three runs with two outs and nobody on and we had runners on first and third and nobody out and couldn't score. That was kind of tough."
Mills said he had talked to Weiland (0-1) before the game about keeping the ball down and getting strikes. The manager said that there were several times when the ball was down but out of the zone.
"That caused his pitch count to go up and caused him to get behind in the count with some guys," Mills said. "That enabled them to get some better swings on balls as the count got deeper."
Weiland said part of the reason for the issues was his intensity was a too high, but he felt better in his last two innings when he got that under control.
Rookie Tyler Pastornicky added a solo shot for the Braves, sending his first major-league homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field to push Atlanta's lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning.
Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson (1-1) allowed six hits and two runs with eight strikeouts in five innings for the win. Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.
Jordan Schafer singled in the seventh before scoring after consecutive one-out singles that chased Kris Medlen. Chris Johnson's two-out single scored J.D. Martinez and got Houston within 5-4 with runners at first and second.
Eric O'Flaherty escaped the jam by striking out Chris Snyder to end the inning.
Pinch-hitter Eric Hinske drove in an insurance run with a single in the eighth inning that made it 6-4.
Houston had a chance to tie in the ninth, but Johnson grounded into a double play with runners on first and second and nobody out before Snyder grounded to third to end it.
"I let them off the hook a little bit," Johnson said. "It was a bad night. This one is on me. I had a bunch of guys on base when I was hitting, and I didn't come up with the big hit. I'll take this one."
The loss spoiled a special day for Houston, which entered the game having won three straight.
The Astros, who began as the Colt .45s, celebrated the 50th anniversary of their first game on Tuesday by wearing throwbacks fashioned after the original Colt .45 uniforms. The white uniforms featured the word "Colts" in orange lettering with a pistol below it.
Major League Baseball had initially objected to having the pistol on these jerseys, which will also be worn April 20, but rescinded the objection in March, allowing them to wear the original 1962 uniform design.
Five members of the 1962 team attended the game and Bob Aspromonte, who started the team's first game, threw out the first pitch.
Brian McCann hit a two-out single in the third and scored on a double to center field by Dan Uggla to tie it at 1-1. The homer by Jones, which landed in the first row of right-field seats, put Atlanta up 3-1.
Schafer singled, stole second and third base, and scored on a single by Carlos Lee to get Houston within 4-2 in the fifth. Schafer, who came to Houston last summer in the trade for Atlanta's Michael Bourn, finished with three hits and three stolen bases.
Lee had three hits, two walks and drove in two runs.
Bourn walked to start the seventh inning and stole second base. He advanced to third on a groundout and pushed Atlanta's lead to 5-2 when he scored on a fielder's choice.
Johnson doubled with one out and scored on a two-out single by rookie Marwin Gonzalez to put Houston up 1-0 in the second inning.
NOTES: OF Jose Constanza was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett before the game to make room for Jones on the roster. ... Houston SS Jed Lowrie, on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right thumb, had one hit and two RBIs in a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. ... The Astros went 5 for 18 with runners in scoring position.