Final

Tigers 7

(16-10, 10-5 away)

Astros 5

(13-9, 6-6 home)

    1:05 PM ET, March 24, 2007

    Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    DET 103000003 7 - -
    HOU 001000220 5 - -

    Tigers (ss) 7, Astros 5

    Associated Press

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- Chad Durbin and Zach Miner didn't make it any easier for manager Jim Leyland to decide who'll get the last spot in the Detroit Tigers' bullpen.

    "I thought they both actually threw the ball good," Leyland said Saturday.

    Durbin allowed one run and two hits in four innings, and Miner gave up four runs and four hits in four innings as a Detroit Tigers split squad beat the Houston Astros 7-5.

    "A couple of balls they didn't hit real good fell in for them," Leyland said, referring to Miner's outing. "He got a little frustrated, trying to be too perfect."

    Leyland used the third inning to teach Durbin a lesson.

    "He got the two quick outs and then (Craig) Biggio got the little blooper and Brad Ausmus hit a mediocre fastball," the manager said. "You've got to finish the inning. I just reminded him of that. It's no big deal, but what happens is you get that out, maybe it keeps (Lance) Berkman or somebody on deck in the ninth inning of the game. Stuff like that's important."

    Houston starter Jason Jennings allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings.

    "I feel like I'm where I need to be," he said. "Eighty-five pitches and just the one walk. Pounding the zone pretty good. A few of the hits were on the ground, which is a good sign. It wasn't great, but it's definitely been worse."

    Jennings, who struck out two, has one more start before the regular season.

    "He wasn't sharp," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "Certainly not as sharp as I saw him last year. He reports that typically he has bad springs, that he doesn't throw the ball well in the spring. That may offer an explanation."

    A scary moment for Jennings came in the fourth inning when he fell hard on his left knee while fielding a ball. He looked a bit shaken up at the time, but said he was fine.

    "I don't know what I did," he said. "I thought I had a play on it."

    The competition for Houston's right-field job got thinner after the game when the Astros released Richard Hidalgo. He was a distant third in the race behind Luke Scott and Jason Lane.

    Hidalgo attended spring training with the Baltimore Orioles last season but did not appear in a major league game. The Astros offered him a minor league assignment, but he declined, saying he wanted to pursue another major league opportunity.

    "This is someone that we had high hopes for, that he would come back and rejuvenate his career here," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. "We had no qualms about the way he went about his business. He was a professional, his defense was solid, above average for sure. It's just that offensively he never came around like we hoped he would. Rather than prolong it any further, we just thought we would give him the news today."

    Hidalgo had six hits and nine RBI this spring. His only home run came on Friday, when he hit a three-run shot.

    Hidalgo left the facility without talking to reporters.

    Purpura said it was disappointing that Hidalgo wasn't able to revive his career with the Astros, but that the decision wasn't difficult.

    "There's certain guys that you pull for, but you have to be objective about it," he said. "Our job is to be objective about all of our players and do the right thing for the ballclub. So from that point of view it was easy."

    Game notes


    Detroit's Justin Verlander will pitch a minor league game on Sunday instead of making his scheduled start against the Yankees.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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