Heyward helps Braves beat Astros

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Jair

Jurrjens might have been the best pitcher in the National League in the

first half of last season.

Eight months later, the

Atlanta Braves right-hander was happy to get through his first spring

training appearance without any pain in his right

knee.

“I was trying to get the feel of pushing off

and not feeling anything, and I think I succeeded in pushing off with no

pain,” Jurrjens said after pitching two innings in a 10-5 victory over

the Houston Astros on Monday.

Jurrjens threw 47

pitches and was charged with two runs and three hits. The right-hander

struck out none and walked one.

“I think at times I

tried to do too much and I left some balls up,” he said. “But I think if

we see the whole picture, I made some quality pitches and I got some

soft fly balls. I went to (the slider) too much against lefties and put

myself in the hitters’ count too much. But that’s what spring training

is for, to see what you can use in the season.”

Dan

Uggla homered and Jason Heyward had a two-run single for Atlanta, which

scored six times in the last three innings. Uggla and Brian McCann each

went 2 for 3.

Houston starter Jordan Lyles gave up

two runs and four hits in two innings. Jed Lowrie, Matt Downs and J.B.

Shuck each had two of the Astros’ 11 hits.

Jurrjens

was 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA in his first 16 starts last year, but finished

with a 13-6 record. He made his last appearance on Aug. 30, no small

factor in the collapse of the Braves.

“Right now I’m

just trying to get the strength in my legs back, and see if I feel

anything, too. So far, so good, and I’ll just keep working on it,”

Jurrjens said.

“My leg is responding really well to

everything, and that’s the only thing you can ask

for.”

The 21-year-old Lyles also had mediocre

results.

“It’s to be expected the first time out

facing live hitters,” he said. “I made a couple pitches to get ground

balls, but they found holes. Hats off to them, but it really came down

to me falling behind guys and throwing too many pitches in that first

inning.”

NOTES: LHP Zach Duke, a

non-roster invitee competing with Lyles for a spot in the rotation,

worked three innings in his spring debut. He allowed one run and three

hits. … Uggla’s first spring homer came off Xavier Cedeno, who struck

out the other three Braves he faced. … Carlos Lee is expected to play

first base for the Astros on Tuesday after missing the first three games

with a strained right hamstring.