Williams, Backe hit hard by Tribe

Williams, Backe hit hard by Tribe

at Kissimmee, Fla.
Thursday, March 6

Astros at the plate: Hunter Pence drove in two runs with a fourth-inning single off Rafael Perez. Miguel Tejada and Darin Erstad chipped in with run-scoring singles.

Indians at the plate: Left fielder Ben Francisco went 4-for-4, scored a run and drove in two more. Franklin Gutierrez went 3-for-4. Grady Sizemore and Josh Barfield contributed two hits apiece. Beau Mills added a two-run homer in the fifth and Brad Snyder hit a solo shot in the eighth.

Astros on the mound: Woody Williams was tagged for five runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Closer Jose Valverde was reached for a run in the inning he worked after giving up doubles to Grady Sizemore and Andy Marte. Brandon Backe worked a scoreless fifth and seventh but gave up four runs in the sixth.

Indians on the mound: Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia, rebounding from a subpar outing against the Tigers, pitched three perfect innings. The left-hander struck out three and needed only 28 pitches, including 22 strikes, to retire the nine batters he faced. Rafael Perez surrendered four runs in the fourth inning.

Grapefruit League record: Astros 3-5, Indians 2-4.

Up next: Shawn Chacon's bid for a berth in the Astros' rotation continues at Tampa on Friday when the right-hander faces the New York Yankees and Andy Pettitte in a 1:15 p.m. ET game. Right-handers Chris Sampson, Geoff Geary and Carlos Hines are also scheduled to pitch for Houston.

With only one spot open in the Indians' bullpen, a handful of relievers have reason to bring their best stuff to spring games. Two of those relievers with a decent shot at making the club, Tom Mastny and non-roster invitee Jorge Julio, will give it a shot Friday, as the Indians host the Mets at 1:05 p.m. Left-hander Cliff Lee will make the start for the Tribe, opposite left-hander Oliver Perez.

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.