KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Houston's Brian Moehler dismissed the idea that spring training games are for working on your pitches.
Moehler was solid Saturday in his spring debut, giving up a home run in two innings of the Houston Astros' 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates."Whether you've got a guaranteed job or guaranteed deal or whatever, I still want to go out there and pitch well," he said. "I'm not one of those guys that goes out there and works on stuff in spring training. I'm trying to get guys out."Moehler, a favorite to land a spot on in Houston's rotation, struck out two but gave up a homer to Brandon Moss in the second inning."It was the right pitch, just a bad location," Moehler said. "I left it up and he didn't miss it. ... I feel like for the most part I located pretty well. I was happy with my breaking stuff, hopefully I'll just continue to build on it from here on out."The Astros played most of their big hitters but didn't get much out of them. Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada went a combined 0-for-5, with an RBI coming from Berkman on a sacrifice fly.Astros manager Cecil Cooper planned to give each three at-bats apiece but a prior engagement at Disney World cut them off at two. That allowed some of Cooper's younger players more time, and John Gall took advantage with two singles and an RBI. Matt Kata had a run-scoring triple.Cooper also liked what he saw from probable starting center fielder Michael Bourn, who helped spark a late rally with two hits, including a RBI triple. He also scored twice."I like the fact that he put the ball on the ground," Cooper said. "It shows what he can do when he swings the bat well."Pirates starter Paul Maholm worked two perfect innings with two strikeouts.Besides Moss, the Pirates' got homers from Craig Monroe, Jeff Salazar and Robinzon Diaz. Diaz's homer came leading off the fifth against NL saves leader Jose Valverde, who gave up two runs and three hits in one inning.
Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez will miss his scheduled start Wednesday due to a strained side muscle. ... Pittsburgh starters have not allowed an earned run in seven innings. ... The Astros will travel to Port St. Lucie to play the Mets on Sunday, while the Pirates will host the Tigers in Bradenton.