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Oberholtzer leads Astros past Mexican League club

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HOUSTON (AP) — Brett Oberholtzer allowed two hits in six innings and a Houston Astros split squad beat Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz 2-0 Saturday night in the opener of a two-game exhibition series against the Mexican League club at Minute Maid Park.

Dexter Fowler hit his first home run of the spring and Matt Dominguez had a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Oberholtzer struck out two and walked none. Anthony Bass, Matt Albers and Josh Fields each pitched an inning to finish the shutout.

Oberholtzer was pleased with his outing after entering the game 0-2 with an 11.00 ERA this spring.

“Regardless of who’s in the box and who’s at the plate, I have to make my pitches,” the left-hander said. “I felt like I did that pretty well tonight. Still have to get better, but overall it was satisfying.”

Fowler’s home run keyed the Astros’ two-run fourth inning.

“It’s awesome,” Fowler said. “We’re just eager to get going. The guys are getting comfortable and here in the clubhouse, you can feel a sense of excitement.”

The Astros improved to 12-15 this spring. Astros manager Bo Porter said Saturday’s game was the last extensive action the starters would see before the season opener at home against the New York Yankees on Tuesday.

“It was nice for them to get some work in and now it’s time to get their heads right for the regular season,” he said. “Tonight was a good end to the spring (for the starters).”

ROSTER MOVES

The Astros traded LHP Eric Berger to the Oakland A’s for a player to be named later, general manager Jeff Luhnow said on Saturday. Berger, 27, was in minor league camp this spring.

He was 6-3 in 44 appearances at Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2013 after being acquired from Cleveland in exchange for catcher Chris Wallace on April 15, 2013.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The series finale between the Astros and Veracruz might bring some extra fanfare.

RHP Mark Appel – last year’s No. 1 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft – gets his first career Spring Training start Sunday. It’ll be the Houston native’s first opportunity to give the hometown crowd a glimpse of the future.

Highly touted coming out of Stanford, Appel has been recovering from an appendectomy in January. He made his spring training debut in Wednesday’s 9-6 win over the New York Mets.

HISTORY BEING MADE

This weekend’s series is the first time the Astros are hosting a club from the Mexican League at Minute Maid Park. Paid attendance for Saturday’s game was 11,549.

Veracruz has won six league titles, the latest in 2012.