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Houston 3, Cleveland 2

3/31/2004

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- Roy Oswalt finished strong in his final
spring start. Milton Bradley didn't even finish for the Indians.

Oswalt pitched seven innings and the Houston Astros beat
Cleveland 3-2 Wednesday, but Bradley was removed by manager Eric
Wedge for not running hard on a second-inning popup that dropped in
for a single.

The temperamental center fielder dressed quickly and left the
ballpark in a cab before the game was over. He was unavailable for
comment, but told a team spokesman that he had a tight groin.

"I didn't like the way he ran on that popup," Wedge said. "He
said he was tight so I felt it best to get him out of there."

Bradley missed some time this spring with a slight groin injury.
He's had previous trouble with the Indians, and the club had been
hoping he'd matured.

Bradley promised this spring not to be a distraction. In
February, he was sentenced to three days in jail for driving away
from police after being stopped for speeding.

Wedge wouldn't say if there was a confrontation when Bradley
came back into the dugout Wednesday.

"I'm not going to get into that," Wedge said. "I'll leave it
where we're at. I'll talk to him tomorrow."

Bradley was removed from a game last season for failing to run
out a ball, and he also angered some opponents with showboating
antics.

The Indians are counting on Bradley, coming off an
injury-plagued season, to bat cleanup and be a productive everyday
player.

Oswalt, who had offseason groin surgery, struck out seven,
walked one and allowed six hits.

"This is the first time I've felt loose in spring training,"
Oswalt said. "Usually, it takes me a month into the season, so I'm
coming in feeling loose. I almost feel like I could do the
splits."

C.C. Sabathia, who will be the Indians' opening day starter for
the second straight year, held Houston in check until the fourth
inning, when he walked two batters and yielded a two-run double by
Mike Lamb and an RBI single by Raul Chavez for a 3-1 Astros lead.

Sabathia pitched seven innings, allowing three hits and three
earned runs.

Cleveland got a run in the third when Omar Vizquel doubled and
scored on a single by Jody Gerut. Coco Crisp hit a sacrifice fly
off Octavio Dotel in the ninth.

Game notes
The teams also completed a trade, with the Indians
acquiring 15-game winner Jeriome Robertson from the Astros for
minor league outfielders Luke Scott and Willy Taveras. Robertson
led major league rookies in wins last season but was bumped from
Houston's rotation when Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte were
signed. ... Houston pitchers led the majors with a 3.61 ERA this
spring. ... Lance Berkman leads the Astros with 13 RBI. ... The
Astros close out the Florida portion of spring training against
Atlanta on Thursday. They'll host Kansas City at Minute Maid Park
in their final two spring games before opening the season against
San Francisco. ... Clemens will pitch in a minor league game in
Kissimmee on Friday. ... Tim Laker will be the Indians' backup
catcher. Josh Bard, slowed by a groin injury, will start the season
on the disabled list.