KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - 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,' he 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 pitched 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 to start for the Braves 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.
The Associated Press News Service
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