Atlanta third baseman Bob Horner hit a two-run double in the first inning tonight to help the Braves defeat the Houston Astros, 2-1, and tie the National League record for consecutive victories at the start of a season.

The victory was the 10th this year for the Braves, who can break the league mark and tie the major league record Sunday in the series finale with Houston. Five of Atlanta's victories have been against the Astros.

The NL record is shared with the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1962 Pittsburgh Pirates. The Oakland A's won 11 straight at the start of last season to set the major league mark.

"We are simply looking for a winning game again tomorrow," Braves Manager Joe Torre said. "It will be just like a one-game series."

If the Braves break the record, "we don't want to stop winning then," said Torre.

Glenn Hubbard singled and Dale Murphy walked with one out in the first and both scored when Horner doubled into the left-field corner off Joe Niekro (1-2). Niekro went 6 1/3 innings, and gave up six hits and six walks. In compiling a 9-9 record last year, Niekro never walked more than five batters in a game.

After stranding nine runners in the first four innings, Houston finally scored in the fifth. Terry Puhl drew a base on balls from Braves starter Bob Walk and came home on Phil Garner's hit-and-run double to left.

Walk then was replaced by Larry McWilliams. Jose Cruz lined to first and Alan Ashby struck out, but McWilliams was relieved after walking Ray Knight and giving up an infield hit to Tony Scott to load the bases.

Preston Hanna (1-0) retired Art Howe on a fly ball to left and got the victory. Gene Garber relieved Hanna in the seventh and gained his second save with three perfect innings.