Rasmus Blast Leads Astros Over Braves

The Houston Astros locker room was a bit happier after Colby Rasmus smoked an opposite field shot over the left field fence with two runners on, hitting the top of the fence before bouncing into the grass beyond the fence. The Astros had been behind 5-3, the homerun giving them a 6-5 lead in a game they would win 8-5. The homerun ball was delivered by Brady Cuniff.

The game started poorly for the Braves with the Astros tagging the pedestrian fastball of Wandy Rodriguez. Jose Altuve pulled a double that bounced over the left field fence. Jonathan Villar followed by yanking a ball deep into left center, bouncing off the top of the fence before returning to the field of play for a double. Luis Valbuena pulled a single into left field to make it 2-0. Rodriguez started mixing in more curveballs and became more effective, striking out two of the next three hitters to contain the damage.

Wandy struck out the side in the second inning and in five innings of work struck out seven. When he did not locate his pitches the Astros hit him hard. Jed Lowrie hit his first pitch in the fourth inning just inside the left field foul pole for a homerun to give the Astros a 3-0 lead.

Asher Wojciechowski shut out the Braves in the first three innings. Back to back doubles by Freddie Freeman and Kelly Johnson in the fourth scored the Braves first run. Jonathan Singleton made a poor diving effort on a ball bounced past the first base bag on the Freeman double. Singleton proved the adage the bigger you are the harder it becomes to dive to the ground.

The fifth inning was not a good inning for Asher, but Singleton again opened the floodgates. Asher began the inning hitting Chris Johnson on a high and inside first pitch. Eric Young followed with a hustle double down the right field line, advancing Johnson to third. Asher appeared to have squelched the rally with minimal damage when he struck out Jace Peterson and jammed Nick Markakis with a harmless grounder to first. Singleton dropped the grounder and all hands were safe, the Braves scoring their second run.

Kevin Chapman came on and he was cannon fodder. After striking out Freddie Freeman for the second out (and what should have been the third out) he hit Kelly Johnson in the hand to load the bases. An A.J. Pierzynski single up the middle scored two and an Alberto Callaspo single scored the fourth and final run of the inning. The Braves had stormed back to take a 5-3 lead and the tomahawks were chopping.

Brandon Cuniff came on to relieve Rodriguez in the sixth and walked his first two hitters. Colby Rasmus mashed an opposite field shot into left field for a three run lead. Cuniff would give up two more hits in the inning, but limit the damage to those three runs.

The Astros scored two insurance runs in the eighth, this time an error by Braves newly installed first baseman Phil Gosselin starting the inning off. Like Singleton he dropped a grounder he had scooped up, then kicked it when it hit the ground. A walk to Robbie Grossman and a double by Gregorio Petit down the left field line scored two runs.

The Braves put runners on second and third with two out off James Hoyt. A.J. Pierzynski lined a ball into short right field, straight into the glove of the second baseman, who had been shifted there. Without the shift it would have been a two run single.

Game Notes: Last time we saw Chris Carter he was a triple short of the cycle in three at bats. Monday he struck out in all four plate appearances. Last night he struck out in his first two plate appearances and walked in his third and last plate appearance of the night. Astro fans have learned to tolerate his slumps…The Astros put runners on first and third with no out in the fourth inning. Jonathan Singleton went the opposite way for a shallow fly to left that could not score the runner to third. Robbie Grossman grounded into a double play…There was a three man umpiring crew for the game tonight…Colby Rasmus hit a double off a lefthander, a good sign. The bad news is the lefthander was Wandy Rodriguez…Jonathan Singleton had a poor game and did not help his staying on the roster. He, Chris Carter and Evan Gattis are poor defensive first baseman. The Astros have been playing Marwin Gonzalez at first base late in games. He may end up the defensive replacement for the three options they have to start first base.

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