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Braves watch big lead slip away in loss to Astros

Houston scored 11 unanswered runs in the sixth and seventh to come away with a 11-8 win.

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Mets Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves jumped out to an 8-0 lead, but saw the Houston Astros mount a big comeback in a 11-8 loss.

The Braves didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard. Forrest Wall got things started reaching on an error by Houston shortstop Jeremy Pena. Wall stole second and then came around to score on a single to right by Ehire Adrianza. Marcell Ozuna followed with a bloop single to right to put runners at the corners. However, they were unable to do anymore damage as Jose Urquidy recovered and struck out Sam Hilliard, Ryan Casteel and Braden Shewmake to end the inning.

Atlanta added another on in the second. Magneuris Sierra doubled on a deep fly over the head of center fielder Mauricio Dubon. Wall then followed with a double of his own off the wall in right that scored Sierra to make it 2-0. Adrianza then singled on a line drive to center to bring home Wall to make it 3-0.

Bryce Elder struggled in his first outing, but was in control in this one. Elder retired the first six hitters he faced including strikeouts of Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman and Martin Maldonado. He allowed a single to start the third, but the runner was erased later on a double play.

The Braves continued to add on in the fourth, Joshua Fuentes got things started with a solo shot off of Ryne Stanek to make it 4-0. Adrianza worked a two-out walk and then moved all the way to third when Ozuna dropped in a double in right that eluded Tucker and bounced into the stands. Hilliard followed with a rocket double off the wall in center that brought home two more runs to make it 6-0.

Elder would give way to Danny Young in the fourth inning. He bounced back well from a rough debut allowing just one hit to go along with three strikeouts over three scoreless innings.

Young tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Elder allowing one hit and one walk to go along with one strikeout. Atlanta added on more runs in the sixth as Sierra singled to get things started and then stole second to move into scoring position. Adrianza followed with another single that scored Sierra to make it 7-0. Adrianza moved to second on a single by Ozuna and then came around to score as Hilliard reached on an error by third baseman Will Wagner.

Victor Vodnik took over in the sixth and immediately found himself in trouble. Collin Barber led off the inning with a double to right. Jose Altuve worked a walk and then Pena followed with a single to load the bases. Tucker followed with a single to right to plate Houston’s first run to make it 8-1. Wagner then grounded out to Luke Waddell at second for the first out, Altuve scored on the play to make it 8-2. Vodnik came back and struck out Maldonado for the second out, but J.J. Matijevic delivered a single that scored Pena and Tucker to make it 8-4.

Things further unraveled for the Braves and reliever Coleman Huntley in the seventh. Justin Darden doubled to get things started and then came home to score on a single by Tyler Whitaker. Huntley got Altuve to fly out for the first out, but Pena followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Pinch-hitter Bligh Madris then grounded into what should have been a double play, but Luke Waddell bobbled it for an error that loaded the bases. Brian Snitker would replace Huntley with Grant Holmes, who was promptly greeted by a single off the bat of Wagner that made it 8-6. Holmes then got C.J. Stubbs to bounce back to the mound and threw home for the force for the second out. However, Holmes wouldn’t escape as Matijevic cleared the bases with a double to put Houston in front 9-8. Jacob Melton followed with another single to bring home Matijevic to make it 10-8. Holmes then walked Dirden, before Whitaker flew out to bring the inning to a merciful end.

Ty Tice entered in the eighth inning and promptly served up a solo home run to Leosdany Molina to make it 11-8.

It was a disappointing result, but there were some positive takeaways. Elder’s performance is noteworthy as he competes for the fifth starter’s spot. Adrianza went 3-for-3, scored two runs and drove in three more. Ozuna finished with three hits in the game as well.

Atlanta will have split squad action against the Orioles and the Twins Saturday. Max Fried will start the game at CoolToday Park against Minnesota with Spencer Strider scheduled to start against Baltimore.

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