LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In their final Grapefruit League tuneup before the regular season commences, the Braves topped the Astros, 2-0, behind yet another stellar outing from southpaw Paul Maholm.
The 30-year-old hurler extended his spring streak to 24 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run with four scoreless frames against Houston. In the month of March, Maholm yielded four unearned runs in five outings, limiting opponents to 18 hits as he tallied 18 strikeouts.
Andrelton Simmons socked his third home run of the spring in the third inning for the Braves.
Lucas Harrell offered Houston six efficient innings, as he limited Atlanta to two runs (one earned) on four hits while fanning five. The Braves scratched across their first run in the opening frame, as left fielder Justin Upton scored on an errant throw from Astros right fielder Brandon Barnes following a single by first baseman Freddie Freeman.
The Braves' bullpen kept Houston's hitters at bay. Jordan Walden, Craig Kimbrel, Mark Lamm, Anthony Varvaro and Andrew Russell all tossed scoreless innings. Walden set the Astros down in order in the fifth and recorded a pair of punch outs. Kimbrel loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter, but sidestepped any damage. The All-Star closer induced a popout from center fielder Justin Maxwell, struck out third baseman Brandon Laird and got catcher Carlos Corporan to fly out to dodge harm.
Houston packed the bags full in the ninth with one out, but Preston Tucker lined a pitch directly into Russell's glove. The pitcher then turned and threw to third base for a game-ending double play.
Up next: The Astros return to Houston to face the Chicago Cubs in an exhibition game at Minute Maid Park at 7:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Alex White, who learned Thursday he would begin the season in the bullpen in long relief, will get the start for the Astros.