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ATL@HOU: Springer blasts a solo homer to deep-center

HOUSTON -- The chances for the Astros to ramp up a sputtering offense came all through the night on Tuesday. They were able to string hits together. They had runners in scoring position. There was a 441-foot blast. Once again, however, there just weren't many runs in a 3-2 loss to the Braves at Minute Maid Park.

"We had our chances," manager Bo Porter said. "Just were not able to get the big hit. From an offensive standpoint, you run the bases well, you get guys on, but at the end of the day you have to find a way to drive them in, and we were not able to do that tonight. It was the difference in the ballgame."

For a team that had scored five runs in its last four games coming into Tuesday's game, getting eight hits was certainly encouraging. Leaving 10 runners on base, however, was not, as the Astros lost their seventh game in their last eight.

Four of the seven losses have been in one-run ballgames, as the young and improving club has struggled to squeak the close ones out over this mid-June stretch.

"When you talk about young players and their maturation and growth, they're going to go through times like this," Porter said. "It just so happens that as a team, it looks like we're all going through it collectively together."

George Springer started the nine-game homestand with an offensive spark, launching the eighth-longest homer hit by an Astros player at Minute Maid Park 441 feet to center field. The solo shot in the first inning landed on the Budweiser Patio.

The next two innings would start a trend for the Astros. Jason Castro and Chris Carter singled in the second inning, and the frame ended with a Robbie Grossman strikeout and a Jonathan Villar flyout. Dexter Fowler led off the third inning with a walk and advanced to third on a Jose Altuve single. Springer hit into a fielder's choice that didn't score Fowler, and Jon Singleton grounded into an inning-ending double play.

There was a change to the trend when Villar singled to score Castro in a fourth inning that still ended with two Astros left on base.

The Braves got all the offense they needed by the fourth inning. Jason Heyward tripled in the second and scored on Chris Johnson's double. It was Johnson's first hit at Minute Maid Park since being traded from the Astros to the D-backs in 2012.

"Once I got that hit, I think everything was fine," Johnson said. "A lot has changed over there since I was here. There are only a couple guys that I really played with in their starting lineup. A lot of their coaching staff and front office has changed."

B.J. Upton homered in the third and Justin Upton followed suit in the fourth.

It was the fourth time the Uptons have homered in the same game, which ties a Major League brothers record with Jason and Jeremy Giambi and Vladimir and Wilton Guerrero.

Feldman gave up all three runs, allowing only four hits in six innings.

"It was a good night for the Uptons," Feldman said. "Made a couple mistakes to those guys and they did some damage."

The good night for the Uptons meant a bad one for Houston.

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