KISSIMMEE, Florida — Wandy Rodriguez made his latest bid to earn the final spot in Atlanta's rotation, pitching five innings for the Braves on Tuesday night in their 8-5 loss to the Houston Astros.
Rodriguez yielded three runs against his former team. The diminutive lefty, a non-roster invitee to spring training, has a 3.13 ERA in six games. He struck out eight without issuing a walk, but also gave up a homer to Jed Lowrie.
AL batting champion Jose Altuve had three hits for the Astros, and Colby Rasmus hit a three-run homer.
Rodriguez is trying to land the No. 5 starter job — at least until Mike Minor returns from injury, perhaps in May. Rodriguez said he cringes a bit every time Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez walks past his locker.
"I'm ready to start right now," said Rodriguez, who was 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in six starts for Pittsburgh last season. "I just don't know if I made the team."
Gonzalez said it is time to make a call.
"I've liked what I have seen," he said. "He doesn't shy away from contact and I like that. He's really bringing it, but I still haven't made a decision."
Houston starter Asher Wojciechowski, a surprise contender for the final spot in the Astros' rotation, allowed one run over 4 1-3 innings to leave his spring ERA at 1.29. Wojciechowski spent last season in Triple-A.
"I'm just happy about how I did this spring," he said. "I came in and competed. I had a lot of fun and I'm still glad to be here."
Astros manager A.J. Hinch, like Gonzalez, is still waiting to make a decision.
"This was the first game he didn't have his A-plus stuff," Hinch said. "It was good to see him battle."
Hinch wasn't tipping his hand, but said he would have his 25-man roster set by Wednesday.
A.J. Pierzynski and Eric Young Jr. both had two hits for the Braves. All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel extended his spring scoreless streak to five innings.
Braves: Rodriguez took a line drive off his non-throwing arm but said he was fine and stayed in the game. ... INF Kelly Johnson was hit by a pitch from Kevin Chapman and came out of the game with a bruised left elbow. Johnson, however, said the ball didn't hit bone and he isn't expected to miss any time.
BETTER THAN EXPECTED
Pierzynski was signed as a free agent last winter, partly to mentor young catcher Christian Bethancourt. Instead, Pierzynski has looked good enough to be a starter. He's batting .351 and has a command of his new pitching staff.
"If we can match him up right there's no reason he can't play 110 games or more," Gonzalez said.
Astros: Dallas Keuchel starts Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.
Braves: Julio Teheran will make his final start before opening day when he faces the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.
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