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Braves lose 6-1 in Atlanta

ATLANTA - Cecil Cooper had to admit his lineup against the Atlanta Braves looked different, but the Astros manager correctly predicted the new look would be effective.

Mark Loretta had three doubles and drove in four runs and, with Ty Wigginton batting leadoff for the first time this season, the Astros scored four times in the first two innings Saturday night on their way to a 6-1 win over the Braves.

Cooper also started Reggie Abercrombie in place of center fielder Michael Bourn, but the manager said ""I like my chances' as he eyed his first two hitters' success against left-handers.

Wigginton (.456 on-base percentage against lefties) walked and scored in a two-run second inning against Braves left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes, helping Houston snap a four-game losing streak.

Loretta reached base in each of his three plate appearances against Reyes. He walked in the first and scored on a single to right by Carlos Lee, who then scored from second on Miguel Tejada's single to left.

Loretta's two-run double to right in the second drove in Wigginton and Brad Ausmus. Loretta added another double in the fifth but was thrown out at the plate by first baseman Mark Teixeira, after McCann threw to first attempting to catch Carlos Lee.

Loretta's third double, off Jeff Bennett in the ninth, drove in David Newhan and Darin Erstad.

Even with Lance Berkman going 0-for-4 with a walk, the Astros had more than enough offense to beat the punchless Braves, who managed only four hits and have lost six of seven.

Chris Sampson (4-3) gave up two hits and one run in five innings in his first start since May 25. He filled in for Roy Oswalt, who returned to Houston to be examined on Saturday after experiencing more pain in his left hip. Oswalt is expected to rejoin the team today.

Reyes (3-7), who has not won in four starts since June 13, gave up six hits and four runs in 41â "3 innings.

Sampson gave up his only run in the fifth on Brian McCann's 15th homer.

Tim Brydak pitched two scoreless innings behind Sampson, Geoff Geary added a perfect eighth and Jose Valverde pitched the ninth.

Jason Perry, called up Friday when the Braves optioned right fielder Jeff Francoeur to Double-A Mississippi, was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Notes: Braves LHP Mike Hampton threw five scoreless innings, allowing five hits with no walks, in an injury rehabilitation start for Class-A Myrtle Beach on Saturday. Hampton is returning from a strained pectoral muscle.