Miscues hamper Astros in loss

KISSIMMEE, FL A day after Cecil Cooper ripped his team for bad throws, the Houston Astros had three errors and a costly base-running mistake in a 7-6 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.

Four of the five runs allowed by ace Roy Oswalt were unearned in a rough 3 2/3-inning outing. Oswalt had one of the errors.

"We've got to get better at fundamental plays," said Cooper, whose team has 36 errors this spring. "Today, we had a couple easy ones early on and we didn't execute them, and it turned out to be a key in our big man throwing a lot of pitches in the first inning."

The Indians didn't have an error, and reigning Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia was efficient. He had no walks and six strikeouts in seven innings, the longest outing of the spring for a Cleveland pitcher. The left-hander improved to 3-0, allowing seven hits and three runs.

"He threw the ball well today," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "He did everything you like to see him do with his tempo, the fastball, breaking ball, changeup."

Oswalt (1-2) allowed nine hits and didn't have a strikeout, but he said he was encouraged after throwing 61 strikes in 91 pitches, the only numbers he considered important in his final spring outing. He will be Houston's opening day starter for a franchise-record sixth time at San Diego on Monday.

"The last two starts I've had a bit of dead arm, but as far as recovery, I've been feeling pretty good," says Oswalt, who won 14 games last year, his lowest total since 2003. "It's special to get to come out of spring training every year and be healthy for the first game and hopefully get 35-36 starts in."

Asdrubal Cabrera homered, Victor Martinez drove in three runs and David Dellucci doubled, tripled and had two RBIs for the Indians.

Dellucci, who has been dealing with a sore left forearm among other ailments, played back-to-back games for the first time all spring.

"It was my best day physically and my best day as far as seeing the ball good at the plate and letting my swing go," said Dellucci, who was limited to 56 games last season after suffering a torn left hamstring in June.

If the throwing errors weren't enough for Cooper, the Astros added a base-running blunder that led to a rally-killing double play with the Astros trailing 5-1 in the fourth inning. They closed the gap with a three-run eighth.

"We're professionals. We have to go do the right thing on the field," shortstop Miguel Tejada said after going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. "I know we're going to make some mistakes, but we have to cut down on the errors."

The Indians cleared up their bullpen situation by sending right-hander Tom Mastny to Triple-A Buffalo. The move came a day after seven-year veteran Jorge Julio was added to the 40-man roster and left-hander Aaron Fultz was designated for assignment.

Craig Breslow, a 27-year-old lefty claimed off waivers from Boston on Sunday, is the front-runner to take Fultz's spot.

"I think you have to have a nice mix," Wedge said. "I think what's imperative is that you need to have some veteran presence down there, people that have experience pitching late in ballgames. We got a little bit of both."

Notes: The Astros optioned RHP Jack Cassell to Triple-A Round Rock and sent RHP Runelvys Hernandez to minor league camp. ... Miguel Tejada is 17-of-35 with eight RBIs over 12 games. ... Cliff Lee will get the start for Cleveland on Thursday against Tampa Bay in Winter Haven, in the Indians' final spring game in Florida. ... The Indians are moving to Arizona next spring. ... The Indians have hit home runs in 15 of their past 17 games and 23 of 29 this spring.

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