Mark Teixeira received a warm welcome in Atlanta - and he made sure to give his new fans plenty to cheer about.
The Braves slugger looks to lead his team to a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros when the clubs wrap up their series at Turner Field.
Teixeira made his Braves debut Wednesday after being acquired along with left-handed reliever Ron Mahay on Tuesday, with rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four minor leaguers going to Texas. Teixeira didn’t waste any time making a good impression, connecting for a three-run homer and driving in four runs in Atlanta’s 12-3 win.
“The win was definitely more important, but it was fun getting out there and getting the nerves out of the way,” he said. “I didn’t want to come here the first day and have a disappointment.”
Teixeira arrived in Atlanta in the middle of Tuesday’s 12-4 win and received a warm ovation even though he didn’t get into the game. On Wednesday, he walked with the bases loaded in his first at-bat and earned a curtain call after his sixth-inning homer - his 14th of the season.
“The home run looked real good - opposite-field line drive,” manager Bobby Cox said. “He looked good at first, too.”
Mahay and Octavio Dotel, acquired from Kansas City in another trade-deadline deal, also made their Atlanta debuts by pitching a scoreless inning apiece to close the game.
The Braves have scored 38 runs during a three-game winning streak and are 3 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets, who won in Milwaukee on Wednesday.
The Braves (57-51) last swept the Astros at home May 5-8, 2005, winning four games.
Houston (46-61) has allowed 42 runs while losing its last three. Wandy Rodriguez gave up seven first-inning runs Wednesday, four days after Jason Jennings was pounded for 11 in the opening inning of an 18-11 loss to San Diego.
“It’s a little embarrassing, for the pitching staff and the catchers,” catcher Brad Ausmus said.
The Astros fell to 18-36 on the road - worst in the NL.
Woody Williams (5-12, 5.14 ERA) will try to give Houston a better start in the finale after allowing five runs in six innings of Friday’s 9-4 home loss to his former team, San Diego. Williams has given up 23 homers, tied with Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels for the most in the NL, and is one shy of the league lead in losses.
Williams, however, won 1-0 in Pittsburgh on July 22 after going 0-5 with a 6.09 ERA in his previous six starts away from home. He’s 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA in eight career starts against the Braves - his best ERA against any team he has faced more than once.
Atlanta will counter with rookie Jo-Jo Reyes (0-1, 8.20), who’s making his fifth career start and first against Houston. He was pounded for seven runs in four innings of the Braves’ 8-7, 11-inning loss in Arizona on Friday after posting a 3.86 ERA over his previous two outings.
The Braves have lost each of Reyes’ four starts.
“He’s going to struggle, have good ones and bad ones,” manager Bobby Cox told the Braves’ Web site. “He’s just at that stage right now.”