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Teixeira homers in Braves debut

Atlanta routs Astros again

    ATLANTA — Mark Teixeira hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs in his Atlanta debut Wednesday night, leading the Braves to a 12-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
    Teixeira, acquired from Texas in Tuesday’s seven-player trade, drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning to drive in a run in his first plate appearance.
    After Houston reliever Matt Albers walked Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones in the sixth inning, Teixeira hit a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left-center for his first homer with the Braves and his 14th overall. Teixeira was greeted with high-fives from Jones and Renteria and slaps on his helmet in the dugout, but the fans were not satisfied until he bounced back up the dugout steps and lifted his helmet high in response to the cheers.
    The Braves scored a combined 38 runs in three straight wins, including 24 in winning two straight over the Astros.
    Houston has given up 42 runs in three straight losses. On Sunday, Jason Jennings gave up 11 runs in the first inning of an 18-11 loss to San Diego.
    Buddy Carlyle (6-3) gave up five hits and two runs in five innings and left the game before suffering a hyperextended elbow. He left when experience apparent discomfort while warming up in the sixth. Carlyle, who appeared to wince in pain while swinging and missing a pitch in the bottom of the fifth, is listed as day to day.
    For the second straight night, Houston’s starting pitcher lasted only four innings. One night after Chris Sampson gave up nine hits and five runs, Wandy Rodriguez (7-10) gave up eight runs and six hits. He walked four batters and threw 55 pitches in Atlanta’s seven-run first inning.
    After Yunel Escobar’s leadoff double, Rodriguez walked Renteria and Jones to load the bases for Teixeira’s first trip to the plate. Fans greeted Teixeira with a standing ovation, but the first baseman didn’t swing while taking the walk to drive in the Braves’ first run.
    Andruw Jones drove in Renteria with a single to left before Francoeur walked, forcing in another run. Matt Diaz hit a two-run double to center and Escobar capped the big inning with a two run single.
    Jason Lane singled in the third and scored on Chris Burke’s sacrifice fly. Lance Berkman led off the fourth with his 18th homer, and Ty Wigginton drove in Berkman with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
    Renteria hit his 11th homer in the fourth, and Kelly Johnson hit a run-scoring single off Jennings in the seventh.
    Left-hander Ron Mahay, also acquired in the trade with Texas, and Octavio Dotel both made their Atlanta debuts by pitching a scoreless inning apiece to close the game.
Notes: Jennings made his first relief appearance in his 171st career game. ... The Astros fell to 18-36 in road games — the worst road mark in the NL. ... Teixeira is the first player to hit a homer in his first game with Atlanta since Francoeur hit a homer in his major league debut July 7, 2005.

Teixeira makes debut as new cleanup hitter
    Braves manager Bobby Cox unveiled his new lineup Wednesday, for the first time listing Mark Teixeira as his cleanup hitter.
    Teixeira will hit behind Chipper Jones, giving the Braves an unusually strong duo of switch-hitters in the middle of the order.
    ‘‘I don’t know how many teams have had that, back-to-back switch-hitters,’’ Cox said. ‘‘To me we’ve got two MVPs back to back.’’
    Jones won the NL MVP in 1999. Teixeira was seventh in the AL MVP voting in 2005.
    ‘‘How many teams have had two switch-hitters with power?’’ Cox asked.
    Andruw Jones, the 2005 runner-up in the NL MVP voting who had been hitting cleanup, moved down to the No. 5 spot, followed by Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann.
    With the Braves facing left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, left fielder Matt Diaz, hitting .339, was the No. 8 hitter. Rookie second baseman Yunel Escobar hit leadoff.
    Against right-handers, Willie Harris plays left field and likely will hit leadoff as second baseman Kelly Johnson — with a .295 average, 12 homers and 55 RBIs — hits eighth.
    ‘‘That’s a tough eight,’’ Cox said. ‘‘Kelly is a good hitter.’’
    Said Teixeira: ‘‘The guys at the bottom of the lineup would be hitting 3-4-5 anywhere else in the big leagues.’’
    The key is Teixeira.
    ‘‘He makes it so much better,’’ Cox said. ‘‘He’s a slugger and a great first baseman both, so we get both ends of it. And he’s a great guy. A great teammate. He’ll fit perfectly with the other guys. He knows the city. Played for years with (Georgia) Tech, so he’ll be right at home.’’
    Teixeira might eventually feel at home, but Wednesday was different.
    ‘‘I haven’t been nervous playing baseball in a long time, but I’m going to be nervous tonight,’’ he said.
    Andruw Jones, hitting only .215, couldn’t complain about the move to the No. 5 spot. Jones has better power numbers — 20 homers and 69 RBIs — than Teixeira — 13 and 49 — but Teixeira missed 27 games early in the season with a strained left quadriceps.

STILL HOT
    Don’t forget about the Braves’ No. 2 hitter.
    Edgar Renteria continues to pound out the hits as he is on pace for his career-best season.
    Through Tuesday, Renteria was tied for the NL lead with 140 hits. His 33 hits since the All-Star break lead the major leagues. He has lifted his batting average from .319 to .337 since the break.
    Renteria is on pace for 216 hits.
    The last Atlanta player with 200 hits was Marquis Grissom, with 207 in 1996. The franchise record is 224 hits by Tommy Holmes for the Boston Braves in 1945. The Atlanta record is 219 by Ralph Garr in 1971.
    Renteria hit .293 last season and has a .288 career average with a high mark of .330 for St. Louis in 2003, when he also set a career high with 194 hits.
    Renteria has 10 homers and 52 RBIs.

DOTEL SURPRISED TO BE IN ATLANTA

    Octavio Dotel says he heard a lot of trade rumors the last two weeks, but he never thought he’d be dealt to Atlanta.
    ‘‘I never thought Atlanta was interested in me,’’ Dotel said. ‘‘I’m so excited and happy to be here.’’
    Added Dotel: ‘‘You want to be on a winning team. I want a ring now!’’
    Dotel, who was successful in 11 of 14 save opportunities with Kansas City, will assume a set-up role behind Braves closer Bob Wickman.
    No problem.
    ‘‘It doesn’t matter what inning I pitch,’’ he said. ‘‘Just because I’ve been a closer somewhere doesn’t mean I’m going to come here and take his job.’’
    Dotel was 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA with the Royals.

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