Fowler keys offense as Astros rally by Braves
Outfielder has three hits, walk; Keuchel has rough first before settling
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Dexter Fowler recorded three hits and the Astros took advantage of David Hale's command issues on the way to claiming a 7-5 win over the Braves on Monday night at Champion Stadium.
After recording singles in each of his first three plate appearances, Fowler drew a walk to begin the sixth inning against Hale. The Astros' center fielder advanced to second base on Robbie Grossman's single and then scored the go-ahead run when Dan Uggla's attempt to turn a double play sailed past first base and landed on the Braves' dugout.
The Braves gained an early four-run advantage when Chris Johnson and Justin Upton hit back-to-back first-inning home runs against Dallas Keuchel. Johnson's three-run shot hit the batter's eye beyond the center-field wall. Upton's line-drive solo shot over the left-field wall was similar to the home run he hit against the Mets on Sunday.
Despite allowing five hits in the first three innings, Hale preserved his four-run advantage until Fowler fueled Houston's three-run third inning with an RBI single. Before Grossman followed with an RBI triple that was misplayed by Upton in left field, Keuchel scored on a wild pitch.
Jose Altuve began Houston's two-run fifth inning with a single and later scored on the second of the two wild pitches charged to Hale, who allowed 12 hits and six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Hale's rough outing will give the Braves reason to evaluate whether he or non-roster invitee Gus Schlosser will begin the season in Atlanta's starting rotation.
Keuchel's bid to begin the season as Houston's fifth starter strengthened as he recovered from his first-inning woes and kept the Braves scoreless over the remainder of his four-inning effort.
Up next: The Astros are off Tuesday, and manager Bo Porter wants everyone to stay home and take the day off. They close out Grapefruit League play at 5:05 p.m. CT Wednesday against the Mets at Osceola County Stadium, live on Gameday Audio. Scott Feldman, Houston's Opening Day starter, will take the mound in his final game before facing the Yankees on April 1 at Minute Maid Park.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.