published Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Braves rock Astros, 11-4

HOUSTON — Freddie Freeman and Alex Gonzalez homered on back-to-back pitches during Atlanta’s four-run third inning, and the Braves pounded the Houston Astros 11-4 on Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Freeman’s two-out, two-run shot off fellow rookie Aneury Rodriguez landed several rows up in the second deck in right field and gave Atlanta a 4-0 lead. Gonzalez sent the next pitch into the Crawford Boxes in left field.

Chipper Jones and Eric Hinske also homered for Atlanta, which tied its season high for runs. Freeman and Gonzalez combined for six RBIs.

Braves starter Tim Hudson (5-5) pitched six effective innings, yielding two runs and seven hits.

Matt Downs hit a two-run homer in the ninth for Houston, which has lost six of seven games. Michael Bourn had a triple and two doubles while tying a career high with four hits.

Rodriguez (0-4) lasted just four-plus innings and is winless in eight starts.

The Astros hurt themselves with poor defense in the third. First baseman Brett Wallace’s error on Chipper Jones’ two-out infield single allowed Dan Uggla to score. Jones then sole a base before the homers by Freeman and Gonzalez.

Houston right fielder Hunter Pence singled in the third to extend his careerlong hitting streak to 21 games — the longest current streak in the majors. But Pence left the game after the inning with tightness in his lower back and was replaced by Jason Michaels.

Freeman had an RBI single in the first, and Gonzalez had a two-run double in Atlanta’s four-run fifth. Jones also had an RBI single in the fifth.

Houston closer Brandon Lyon surrendered Jones’ homer in the eighth in his first appearance since May 4 after coming off the disabled list following Wednesday’s game.

Rodriguez gave up six runs and six hits. He struck out four and walked one.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said outfielder Nate McLouth, on the disabled list with a strained muscle on his left side, is scheduled to play in a simulated game today in Florida. He’ll face pitcher Brandon Beachy, who has been on the DL since May 14 with the same injury.

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