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Lowe starts spring slow and steady
Braves pound out 15 hits, 13 runs
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Derek Lowe didn't want to throw breaking balls Monday in his first start of spring training for the Alanta Braves.

"If I was 27 years old, I'd be out here throwing curveballs and sliders like I did at the end of the year last year," he said Monday following a 13-3 win over the Astros' in Houston's exhibition opener.

Lowe allowed two hits in two scoreless innings in his first spring training start.

"At my age, you try to take care of yourself as far as those type of pitches," he said. "In two games I'll start throwing cutters, and then the last two starts down here, I'll have the whole arsenal."

Lowe went 16-12 last season and finished strongly.

"That was by far the best breaking ball that I've had. It was sharper. It was more consistent. I was able to throw it to both sides of the plate," he said. "I haven't changed anything mechanically so you know it's going to be the same. That's probably why I feel like I can take a little bit longer."

Wandy Rodriguez of the Houston Astros tried all his pitches, but it didn't help.

Eric Hinske and Brandon Hicks hit consecutive two-run doubles to key a six-run second inning., when Brian McCann added a two-run single off Enerio Del Rosario. Hinske also doubled against Sergio Escalona to open a four-run fifth.

"I don't know what it is about spring training with me," Rodriguez said. "Last year, I had a terrible spring training. I try to do the best I can."

Rodriguez allowed six runs, five hits and three walks in 1 2-3 innings, needing 43 pitches for five outs.

"He missed a couple of pitches early in counts," Houston manager Brad Mills said. "Then he tried to make some adjustments, and got some balls right over the middle of the plate."

Brett Wallace had three hits and scored twice for the Astros.

NOTES: The Braves had 15 hits and drew eight walks . . . Tommy Hanson is set to start for the Braves on Tuesday against the Astros' Brett Myers in Kissimmee . . . Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez is out with a pulled quadriceps muscle until at least Friday . . . The Astros will use a designated hitter in their first 13 spring training games.

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