Carrasco leads Phillies over Astros

March 14, 2009 2:48:38 PM PDT
Carlos Carrasco turned in a solid outing on Saturday, giving the top pitching prospect a boost in the race for the Philadelphia Phillies' open rotation spot. His performance in the Phillies' 5-2 victory over Houston was bolstered by another sluggish offensive effort by the Astros.

Carrasco, who is competing with Kyle Kendrick, Chan Ho Park and J.A. Happ for the final spot in the rotation, allowed one run and four hits in three innings against a Houston split squad.

"He did a good job today," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "At the same time, he can be better."

Carrasco faced a lineup that included Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee and was supposed to be bolstered by the return of Miguel Tejada from the World Baseball Classic.

Instead, Tejada and Lee went a combined 0-for-6 while Berkman fared a bit better with two hits and an RBI.

Carrasco, who pitched in relief in his last outing, was happy to start Saturday.

"I felt better because I like starting," he said. "I don't like to throw behind somebody. ... I felt different today."

Greg Dobbs went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Philadelphia, which finished with 11 hits. Jayson Werth homered and drove in two runs. While Carrasco helped his case, Astros starter Russ Ortiz struggled.

Ortiz, competing for a spot in Houston's rotation, allowed three runs and seven hits with three walks in 3 2-3 innings. Ortiz, who was an All-Star in 2003 when he led the National League with 21 wins, is trying to make a comeback after sitting out last season following surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right arm. "I felt great," he said. "It was just a bad outing."

Ortiz said he's had some problems with his mechanics.

"I didn't come here to go through the motions," he said. "I came here to throw and throw well and be healthy. I want to be on the team, my goal is to be on the team, but first and foremost I have to do my job. Today I didn't really feel like I did my job." Manager Cecil Cooper was disappointed in his outing.

"Russ didn't seem like he was very sharp," Cooper said. "Didn't have much of a breaking ball."

Notes: Phillies All-Star 2B Chase Utley, who is recovering from offseason hip surgery, played in a minor league intrasquad game at Philadelphia's training complex. He went 2-for-4 and struck out twice. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he couldn't predict when Utley would play in a major league game until he sees how he feels after playing on Saturday. "It's great to have him back on the field," Amaro said. He knows Utley wants to get back quickly, but also doesn't want to rush back and cause more problems. "Chase is smart enough to understand that this is something he has to be careful with," Amaro said. ... RHP Fernando Nieve was claimed off waivers by the New York Mets. The Astros had hoped the 26-year-old would win a starting job, but instead he struggled this spring.

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