Altuve, Astros bats boost win, Keuchel's debut

Altuve, Astros bats boost win, Keuchel's debut

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros erupted for five runs in the fourth inning against relief pitcher Chris Volstad, including a two-run double by Jose Altuve, and cruised to a 9-5 win over the Braves on Wednesday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.

The game marked the spring debut of 2016 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who worked two innings and allowed one hit and one walk and struck out one batter for the Astros. Keuchel is on an individualized throwing program this spring, and he has been brought along at a slower pace than most other starters.

Keuchel finishes a strong debut

Getting on the mound on Wednesday helped him put 2015 behind him. "I'm nobody now in 2016," Keuchel said. "I'm just an Astros pitcher, and we've got five, six good guys who are vying for spots and looking to take us to the championship."

Volstad was rocked for five runs (three earned) in two-thirds of an inning after Braves starter Julio Teheran worked three innings and allowed three hits and two runs.

Castro's solo shot

Astros catcher Jason Castro hit a solo homer in the second for a 2-0 lead, and Freddie Freeman hit a two-run shot off Neal Cotts in the third to tie the game at 2. Nate Freiman, who replaced Freeman at first base in the fifth inning, added his own homer in seventh. 

Freiman's solo home run

Up next for the Braves: Bud Norris will make his second start when Atlanta travels to Jupiter to play the Marlins on Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Tyler Flowers has been battling a minor leg ailment, but the veteran catcher is aiming to be behind the plate when Norris takes the mound.

Up next for the Astros: Collin McHugh makes his second start of the spring when the Astros face the Nationals at 4:05 p.m. CT on Thursday in Viera, Fla. He worked two scoreless innings Saturday against the Mets. Thursday's game will be available on MLB.TV and MLB Network in the Houston television market.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.