Astros bow to Braves in spring training

KISSIMMEE, FL Glavine threw 30 pitches in two innings Saturday, striking out two and giving up a solo homer to Ty Wigginton in the Braves' 7-5 exhibition win over the Houston Astros.

The 41-year-old left-hander, who played for the Braves from 1987-2002 and won two Cy Young Awards, got a loud ovation when he took the field from the many Atlanta fans in the stands at the Astros' ballpark.

Suddenly, this was more than just a relaxed, run-of-the-mill outing at spring training.

"Once that happened, yeah, I started to get nervous," Glavine said. "Up until that point, I was kind of like, OK, just go out there and pitch. Don't worry about it. Just get your feet under you. When I got the nice ovation, I was like, all right, now I want to go out there and do a little bit better than just getting comfortable."

Glavine, who has 303 wins, signed with the New York Mets before the 2003 season. He turned down a $13 million option to return to the Mets this year and took a one-year, $8 million offer to play for the Braves, who expect him to help Atlanta get back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

Right now, Glavine is just trying to make a good first impression on his new teammates with his old team. Players such as Jeff Francoeur, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann weren't around when Glavine's best Atlanta teams were annually winning division titles and playing for pennants.

"Those guys, they haven't played with me," he said. "They've seen me, they've heard about me, so there's a little bit of pressure you put on yourself to go out there and live up to the billing and expectations of those guys. There's always something, you just have to channel it and try to keep your energy as much as what you've got to keep it on, which is getting comfortable and making pitches."

Glavine, who went 13-8 with a 4.45 ERA with the Mets last season, concentrated more on mechanics than results Saturday. He struck out Michael Bourn and Miguel Tejada in the first inning, but served up a 3-1 fastball in the second that Wigginton drove over the left-field fence.

"That was a stupid pitch," Glavine said. "That's one of those pitches that, during the course of the year, I'm not going to throw. A 3-1 fastball in is not my bread and butter. But down here, you just try to throw strikes and not walk guys."

Francoeur hit a three-run homer for Atlanta.

Houston starter Woody Williams allowed two hits with two strikeouts in two scoreless innings.

The Braves rallied for four runs in the ninth to win. Astros relievers Chad Reineke and Stephen Randolph each allowed two walks to fuel the comeback, and Martin Prado's two-run single gave Atlanta the winning margin.

Though the game didn't count, Houston manager Cecil Cooper was frustrated with the bullpen's collapse.

"Same old song, kind of like a broken record," Cooper said. "There is no defense for balls and walking guys. There is really no excuse for it."

The mild-mannered Glavine knew his return would create a buzz in Braves camp, but he's glad the attention on him has died down.

"I think I've been more of a story than I care to be sometimes," Glavine said. "I was hoping that, once I got down here and we got going a little bit, that the story of me coming back would be over and done with. Now, it's just about baseball and I think that's happened."

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