08/02/07 12:08 AM ET
Teixeira powers Braves in debut
First baseman homers; Atlanta scores seven runs in first
By Jeff Lutz / MLB.com
If Atlanta's offense continues to perform the way it has during the last three games, such situations will become obsolete.
The Braves had their third straight double-digit scoring game, beating the Astros, 12-3 at Turner Field. Atlanta had scored 26 runs in its previous two games.
The Braves' biggest new acquisition, Mark Teixeira, had an RBI walk in his first plate appearance during Atlanta's seven-run first inning and hit his first home run as a member of the Braves in the bottom of the sixth.
"People say it's boring baseball when you score seven and the game's not close the rest of the game," Teixeira said. "We'll take that. We'll take 12, 13 runs every night."
Atlanta sent 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first, but the biggest contributor to the big inning was Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez. Yunel Escobar led off the inning with a double, but Atlanta wouldn't get another swing for a while.
Rodriguez walked the next three batters, capping the run of poor control with a six-pitch free pass to Teixeira, who netted his first RBI without taking a swing. The next two batters reached base, and Matt Diaz and Escobar stretched Atlanta's lead from three to seven with consecutive two-run hits.
Rodriguez made an astounding 55 pitches in the inning, totaling more strikes than balls only because he struck out Edgar Renteria to mercifully end the Braves' early onslaught. Rodriguez went to full counts at one point to four consecutive hitters and six of seven.
"You could tell he was trying to be perfect," Teixeira said. "When pitchers try to be perfect, they sometimes walk guys, which happened today. But sometimes they strike you out, because they're making perfect pitches."
Rodriguez eventually settled down, retiring seven of eight hitters after the first inning, but reached 100 pitches with one out in the fourth inning, his last and the inning in which Renteria hit a solo home run.
Renteria's line drive to center field was his only hit in two official at-bats and it raised his batting average to .337, two points behind Chipper Jones' team lead.
"I call him 'The Machine," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He's just a hitting machine and a fielding machine -- he's everything. You couldn't have a better year."
The seven-run early lead was more than enough for Buddy Carlyle, who picked up his sixth win and fifth this season at Turner Field.
Carlyle, who left after throwing several warmup pitches in the top of the sixth inning with a hyper-extended right elbow, protected the lead by doing what he always does -- attacking the strike zone with his narrow assortment of pitches.
Though Carlyle wasn't always sharp, he didn't issue a walk and allowed five hits, doing more than enough to keep the comfortable lead.
"You never want to complain about a team scoring runs, but that was a long time [to wait]," Carlyle said. "It's unbelievable the last three games what the offense has done. It makes pitching definitely a lot easier."
Atlanta padded the lead with a run in the fourth and on Teixeira's first National League homer, a three-run line drive off Matt Albers that cleared the opposite-field wall in left, making him the first Brave to hit a home run in his debut since Jeff Francoeur on July 7, 2005.
That gave Mahay and Dotel plenty to work with, and they finished it off by holding the Astros scoreless in the eighth and ninth innings.
Atlanta's offense barely resembles the team that scored one run during a five-game stretch in June, or even the group that lost four games in a row prior to the recent offensive surge.
The Braves instead resemble the team that scored in double-digits for five straight games last July. That gave Atlanta hope for a 15th consecutive playoff run, but the Braves ultimately had too much ground to gain and fell well short.
This year, the path isn't nearly as treacherous. Atlanta trails the Mets in the National League East by 3 1/2 games and are 2 1/2 back in the Wild Card chase. With the additions of Dotel, Mahay and Teixeira, the task doesn't appear so daunting.
Those new faces all made their Atlanta debuts with positive results on Wednesday night, and the Braves hope for more to come.
"[Tuesday] night everybody was excited about the moves that they had made," Chipper Jones said. "Tonight it was a chance to hopefully see what it's going to be like for the next two months. We had our first good audition."
Jeff Lutz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.