Oswalt nearly perfect in win over Braves

KISSIMMEE, FL The Astros' ace threw six nearly perfect innings, allowing his only baserunner on an error during Houston's 15-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves in a split-squad game.

Oswalt, who struck out seven, wanted to reach about 80 pitches but had just 57 after six innings. Because the Astros needed to get some other pitchers in the game, he threw an extra 20 pitches in the bullpen after leaving the field.

Forty-two of his pitches were strikes. After a strikeout and a pop fly in the sixth, the crowd rose to its feet to cheer him. Berkman playfully grabbed at Oswalt as he walked off the field, and the pitcher joked afterward that the slugger was trying to carry him off.

Oswalt faced the minimum in each inning except the second, when Scott Thorman reached on an error by second baseman Jonny Ash. The right-hander laughed off the hoopla and downplayed his performance.

"Hopefully, I'll have good stuff for opening day," he said. "Spring training, all it counts for is getting in shape. The biggest thing is building up arm strength and my arm feels better the deeper in the ballgame I go. So I think it will be there for opening day."

Astros manager Cecil Cooper raved about Oswalt.

"How about Roy?" Cooper asked with a huge smile on his face as reporters filed into his office after the game. "That was real good. Crisp. He located well. Was real effective today -- real sharp."

Oswalt said his ability to establish his fastball early let him mix it up and throw some different pitches after that.

"Fastball finally feels good coming out of my hand and ... I kind of worked on it all day," he said. "Later in the ballgame I was able to get them off-speed with a curveball."

Seeing Oswalt as he was on Saturday gave Cooper a fresh shot of optimism about the season.

"If he can take it 34-36 times and three-quarters of the time be like that, we're going to win a whole lot of games," the manager said.

For Atlanta, Jair Jurrjens' streak of nine scoreless innings was snapped in the second Saturday when an RBI single by Brad Ausmus followed a double by Miguel Tejada. Jurrjens allowed four hits and four runs with four walks in 2 2/3 innings.

The 22-year-old, vying for the fifth spot in Atlanta's rotation, has impressed this spring, allowing four hits and one run in three previous starts. He hadn't allowed a run since the first inning of his spring debut Feb. 29.

"I was feeling good, but I had some problems with my control," he said. "I was leaving balls in the middle and I was falling behind."

Jurrjens said his goal is to simply make the team and he hopes to put this game behind him and "try and have fun again."

The Astros got a good day from Ausmus, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Edwin Maysonet, brought over from minor league camp for the day, had three RBIs.

Carlos Lee's struggles continued. The Astros' slugger is 0-for-10 in his last four games.

Houston scored five runs in the fifth inning, keyed by a homer from Berkman, his third of the spring. The Braves added five runs in the seventh thanks to a two-run double by Javy Lopez. The Astros added six runs in the eighth.

Notes: It was the most runs Houston had scored in a spring training game since March 7, 2004, at Pittsburgh. ... Atlanta's Yunel Escobar had his streak of 12 straight games with a hit broken when he went 0-for-2.

- Send us your sports story tips
- Click here for more sports stories

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.