Indians 6

(14-12, 7-7 away)

Astros 7

(12-11, 6-6 home)

    1:05 PM ET, March 29, 2005

    Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    CLE 002002002 6 - -
    HOU 300010003 7 - -

    Houston 7, Cleveland 6

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- Brad Ausmus hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a three-run rally and give the Houston Astros a 7-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.

    Cliff Bartosh squandered a two-run lead, allowing three hits, then was traded to the Chicago Cubs for minor league right-hander Ronald Bay.

    Willy Taveras had an RBI double and Chris Burke a run-scoring single to tie it 6-all before Ausmus drove in Taveras.

    Chad Harville gave up run-scoring singles to Ronnie Belliard and Travis Hafner in the top of the ninth to put Cleveland up 6-4.

    Brandon Duckworth, who is competing with Ezequiel Astacio to be Houston's No. 5 starter, allowed eight hits and four runs with four strikeouts in six innings.

    Whether Duckworth will be a starter or a long reliever remains unclear. He is 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 20 2-3 innings. Astacio is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA.

    "Right now, I'm just sitting back and waiting until they tap me on the shoulder and either give me the thumbs up or the thumbs down," Duckworth said. "I think I've thrown the ball pretty well down here and given myself a good opportunity."

    The Astros have two days off during the first week of the regular season, and manager Phil Garner said he will go with a four-man rotation until April 17. Garner said sending Astacio to the minors until then is a possibility.

    Morgan Ensberg gave Houston a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a three-run home run -- his second of the spring -- off Cleveland starter Scott Elarton.

    The Indians had four hits off Duckworth in the third, including a two-run single by Hafner that brought Cleveland to 3-2.

    Houston scored an unearned run in the fifth to make it 4-2, and Ensberg's fielding error allowed two Cleveland runners to score in the top of the sixth and tie the game.

    Elarton pitched seven innings and allowed six hits and four runs. Hafner went 2-for-5 with three RBI for Cleveland.<

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press