HOUSTON (AP) - The Atlanta Braves lamented their missed opportunities after coming one game short of a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros.
Derek Lowe (3-5) threw 5 1-3 innings allowing five runs on eight hits. But the Braves missed scoring chances in the first and fourth as they saw their six-game winning streak end with an 8-3 loss to Houston on Monday night.
Atlanta had a chance to jump on Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez (4-3) in the first, but after Rodriguez walked Freddie Freeman to load the bases with two outs, the left hander struck out Joe Mather to end the inning.
``That's the way it goes,' Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ``He faced our best hitters in that situation and got out. You have to give him a little credit. He changed speeds. He got out of jams and did a nice job.'
After Lowe doubled to lead off the fourth, Atlanta had a chance to cut into Houston's 2-0 lead, but Rodriguez got Jordan Schafer to fly out to center before Dan Uggla and Brian McCann grounded out.
Schafer said he should have bunted Lowe over because it could have chanced the momentum of the game.
``When I hit the ball, obviously I'm trying to pull the ball there, but I shouldn't have even taken that chance,' Schafer said. ``I know he's probably going to try to give me stuff to pull the ball the other way, so I don't get that guy over, but I don't need to take that chance. I needed to go ahead and bunt that guy over. If we get a cheap run there, it's 2-1, and we get momentum going for us, and we are right back in the game.'
Lowe, who struck out two - both in the first - and walked three, left the clubhouse before the media was allowed inside after the game.
Lowe, who is 0-2 with five no-decisions in his last seven starts since a 2-0 win over Philadelphia May 6, gave up a two-run home run to Hunter Pence in the third that put Houston ahead 2-0.
``I called an 0-2 fastball to Pence, and it was just wrong pitch selection,' McCann, the catcher, said. ``I shouldn't have gone there with that pitch. I thought he pitched OK tonight, but it was just that one pitch. Take that back because we had him 0-2 with two outs, and those are hard to swallow, then he gets through that inning, and it might be a different outcome tonight.'
Gonzalez was complimentary of Rodriguez, who threw six innings of two-hit ball with five strikeouts and four walks in his first start off the disabled list. He said Lowe got the ground balls, but too many got through.
``He got 10 ground ball outs, and I don't know how many singles went through the hole that could have been at somebody,' Gonzalez said. ``It could have been a different story. I thought Wandy was pretty good. He got out of those jams early on, and we couldn't get anything going.'
The Astros added five runs in the sixth with Brett Wallace and Matt Downs hitting RBI doubles before Pence capped the inning with a two-run single off Scott Linebrink.
J.R. Towles' sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 8-0 before Schafer hit a 3-run home run in the ninth.
Gonzalez has been impressed with Schafer since he was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett May 24.
``He's a nice little player,' Gonzalez said. ``He ran down a couple balls in the gaps. He has that speed game. He also hit a ball out of the ballpark. He's making a nice little show for himself here.'
The Braves head back to Atlanta after going 7-3 on the road trip after a 1-2 start.
NOTES: Atlanta OF Jason Heyward (right shoulder) began a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he expects him to play two or three games before he is activated from the disabled list.
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