The Braves sent 26 batters to the plate over the first three innings, piling up 14 runs and 14 hits — six of them for extra bases — in a 14-9 split-squad win Friday.
Freddie Freeman hit a three-run homer off Jordan Lyles, and rookie Evan Gattis had one off reliever Sam Demel.
Lyles, the Houston starter, was pounded for six runs and seven hits while getting just two outs and facing nine batters.
“Definitely not concerned, but I don’t think anybody’s happy with giving up runs after runs,” the 22-year-old right-hander said.
“It’s part of the game, but I think next time I’ll start mixing in my cutter and slider. I think the results will be different when I start mixing in all those pitches and start going for outs more than quality strikes.”
Freeman hit his second home run of spring training and scored three times. Johnson had two of the Braves’ 17 hits and scored three runs. Gattis, who had hits in each of the first three innings, drove in four runs.
“Some balls run, some balls stay straight. It’s just a mixture of things this early on,” Lyles said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying here’s the ball, hit it as far as you can, but ... yeah, guys are going to see the box score and they’re not going to be happy, but I’m getting myself ready for April.”
Lyles has allowed 20 hits in five innings.
His 25.20 ERA in two spring training starts looks ugly.
“There are some things that we would want to address. The ball looks elevated a little bit,” Astros manager Bo Porter said.
“But we’re not worried about it. We’re going to continue to work, he’s going to continue to get the ball. There’s still a lot of time left in spring training and we feel confident he’ll be ready to go when the season starts. We expect him to be part of our rotation.”
After losing 106 games in 2011 and 107, the Astros already have a banged up potential rotation, with Lucas Harrell slowed by a strained groin and Erik Bedard by a strained gluteal muscley.
“We’re not concerned at all,” Porter said.
“If Sunday were a regular-season game, Harrell would definitely make his start. It’s more precautionary than anything. Even Bedard got on the mound today and pitched a little bit.
“If those guys had to push themselves because we were in the regular season, they would definitely be able to do that.”
Demel did little better, giving up five runs, three hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning. Wesley Wright, one of just four Astros making more than $1 million, allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning.
“On a positive note, I want to stress this — from the fourth inning on we won the ballgame 7-0,” Porter said.
“It speaks to the never-say-die attitude of our ballclub and these guys fighting back to make it a ballgame. When you have guys diving after balls in this type of game, we take notice of those things.
“Even in the last inning, we sat there and said let’s find some way to get the tying run to the plate.”
Braves starter Sean Gilmartin, making his first spring training start of the year, gave up two runs and five hits in three innings.
With Houston trailing 14-1, Gilmartin hit his third exhibition homer starting the third.
Marc Krauss homered in the fifth against Christhian Martinez, and Trevor Crowe hit a bases-loaded triple.
Blue Jays 7, Braves (ss) 1
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Even though the Toronto Blue Jays have plenty of new faces after a winter makeover, newcomer Josh Johnson said the team’s already one big happy family.
Johnson struck out five in 3 2/3 hitless innings to lead the Blue Jays past a split-squad of Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Friday.
Kris Medlen started for Atlanta and allowed three earned runs, including a homer to Toronoto’s Anthony Gose.
He struck out three and allowed five hits in four innings, his longest outing so far.
Johnson, who went 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA for the Miami Marlins last season, was acquired over the winter and lowered his spring ERA to 1.17. He struck out four of the last five batters he faced. He said he and the rest of the new Jays have meshed well.
“We are all getting used to each other,” Johnson said.
“I’m feeling good about it and so is everyone else. The difference between here and last season (in Miami) is tremendous. This was like a family as soon as we started.”
Johnson has been working on a changeup this spring and plans to add it to his repertoire once the season opens when he will join newcomers R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle in the starting rotation to go along with Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.
“Right now I am just trying to fit in and keep the ball down,” Johnson said. “Some of my pitches were all over the place last year. I am feeling good right now.”
Toronto manager John Gibbons said he has no problems with Johnson, or anyone else on his staff, for that matter.
“Josh has been fantastic,” Gibbons said. “He is showing stuff I never saw until this year. He has better command than I ever saw before.”
Medlin went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA mostly in relief for the Braves last season.
“I was getting ahead of hitters, but I was getting the ball too far over the plate,” Medlen said. “I was ahead, but I couldn’t put them away. I threw strikes, but they were strikes that were too good.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez agreed with Medlen’s assessment.
“He was around the plate and that’s what matters right now,” Gonzalez said. “He’s fine. I’m not worried about a spring training game.”
Gose was 3-for-4 with two RBIs to improve his spring average to .375. Rajai Davis had two hits and three RBIs for the Blue Jays, who led 5-1 after the fifth inning.
The Braves had only two hits, both singles. One came from newly acquired B.J. Upton who raised his spring average to .323.
Notes: The homer by Gose gave the Blue Jays their 19th homer of the spring, highest in the Grapefruit League. ... Ricky Romero will start on Saturday at Dunedin against the Tigers’ Doug Fister. . Gibbons raved about Gose, who is batting .375 this spring and stole 49 bases between stints in Triple A Las Vegas and Toronto last year. “His time is coming,” Gibbons said. “He might not be here at the start, but he’s not just a speed runner. He has a lot of pop in that bat.” .... Mike Minor will make his first start of the spring in Tampa against the New York Yankees. New York will start Jose Ramirez and Mariano Rivera is set to make his spring debut.