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Reyes leads Braves with four strong innings
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Jo-Jo Reyes made a big step toward claiming a spot in the Atlanta Braves starting rotation on Friday night.

The problem for Reyes is that there might not be an opening.

Reyes pitched four shutout innings, allowing no hits and two walks in a 13-0 win over the Houston Astros, but his only hope is that 305-game winner Tom Glavine isn't ready to go by opening day.

Reyes went 3-11 with a 5.81 ERA in 22 starts for the Braves last year, but is likely to start the season in the bullpen behind Glavine, Jair Jurrjens and newcomers Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami.

Reyes has looked sharp this spring and has allowed one earned run in nine innings.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said he wasn't making any commitments, but that Reyes has been impressive.

"The great thing about him is that he is getting some of his confidence back," Cox said. "That's the way he needs to pitch. He's maturing and I like what I am seeing."

Cox wasn't ready to put him in the starting rotation just yet.

"Let's just see what happens the rest of the way," Cox said.

Reyes said the difference between last season and this season is that he's learned to calm down and make adjustments. Always anxious on the mound, Reyes said he is learning composure and said that has been the key to his improvement.

Reyes put two runners on in the first inning against the Astros, then threw a wild pitch.

Last year, Reyes said, that would have been a disaster.

This time, even though it was an exhibition game, Reyes said he used it as a learning experience. And got Aaron Boone to ground into a force play.

"I had to make adjustments during the offseason," Reyes said. "In the first inning tonight, I kept calm. Last year I would have gone crazy. This time I made the adjustments. I stepped off the mound and settled down. That wouldn't have happened last year."

The Braves jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the first and three more in the second to chase Astros starter Fernando Nieve. The scoring continued in the fourth when they chased Astros pitcher Bud Norris on the way to a seven-run fourth inning. The Astros hurt themselves with three errors in the first four innings.

Astros manager Cecil Cooper just wanted to take his team home.

"It's spring training and that's about all I can say," Cooper said. "Let's just get it over with. We had no feeling for pitching tonight and anything you can name, we just didn't do it."

Matt Diaz led the Braves with three hits, including a double and a homer, and he added four RBIs. Clint Sammons and Martin Prado had two hits apiece. Jeff Bennett pitched two shutout innings and Boone Logan, Manny Acosta and Todd Redmond all pitched a shutout inning.

Reggie Abercrombie and Jason Smith had the hits for the Astros.

Notes: Outfielder Garret Anderson was kept out of the game after suffering a pulled right calf muscle minutes before the first pitch. Anderson, who was signed as a free agent after spending his entire 15-year career with the Angels, said he was day to day. ... Jurrjens, Buddy Carlyle and Blaine Boyer are expected to pitch on Saturday in Tampa, Fla., against the Yankees. ... Pitcher Anthony Lerew cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett.

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