KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — This is how Julio Teheran won a spot in the Atlanta Braves’ rotation.
The rookie right-hander struck out 10 in six hitless innings and Dan Uggla hit one of three homers for a split-squad of Braves, who beat the Houston Astros 3-2 on Saturday.
Teheran, Atlanta’s fifth starter, walked three while lowering his ERA to 1.04 in six starts.
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“That’s a really good arm,” Astros manager Bo Porter said.
Teheran also pitched five hitless innings against St. Louis on March 12. He has allowed just seven hits over 26 innings this spring while striking out 35 and walking nine.
“My first goal was to make the team from spring training and I did,” said Teheran, who was notified he made the rotation on Thursday. “That was my motivation.”
Two of Teheran’s walks and three of his strikeouts came in the first inning.
“I was trying to be too fine,” he said. “But from then I was good. Most of my strikeouts were with the curveball.”
The 22-year-old right-hander from Colombia struggled last season in Triple-A, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez thinks he learned from the experience.
“You have to give Julio credit,” Gonzalez said. “He had some adversity last year and is the better for it. He’s matured.”
The Astros had just one hit until the ninth inning, when Rick Ankiel belted a two-run homer off Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.
Ankiel also had Houston’s other hit, a single in the seventh inning. The outfielder, in camp on a minor league deal, is batting .361 (13 for 36) this spring.
Evan Gattis and Uggla went deep in the second inning and Jordan Parraz connected in the fifth against Astros starter Phillip Humber.
It was the third homer in two games for Gattis, who has five this spring and is bidding to win a job as the Braves’ backup catcher.
Humber, who will start the Astros’ third game of the season, allowed no other hits in his six innings. He struck out four and walked none.
“The solo homers usually don’t beat you,” Porter said. “He left a couple of balls up.”
Humber, who fell on hard times after pitching a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox last season, had allowed just two hits over nine scoreless innings in his previous two Grapefruit League starts.
It was home run or nothing for the Braves, who didn’t have any other baserunners.
Atlanta should have plenty of power this year with the addition of brothers Justin and B.J. Upton, and they’re off to a nice start this spring. Saturday’s other split-squad went deep twice in a 10-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, giving the team 42 home runs in 30 Grapefruit League games.
NOTES: 1B Nate Freiman, a Rule 5 selection by the Astros from San Diego, was claimed off waivers by Oakland. … Braves C Brain McCann, rehabbing from right shoulder surgery, will be able to bat in simulated games by the middle of next week, general manager Frank Wren said. McCann won’t be cleared for full game action until at least April 16 – six months after his surgery. … RHP Kris Medlen will make his sixth and final Grapefruit League start for the Braves on Sunday against Washington in Viera. He gave up 14 hits and nine runs in five innings on Monday against Philadelphia. … Astros RF Fernando Martinez, who had to leave a game a week ago with back tightness, played four innings and was 0 for 2.