With latest start, Harrell back on right track

With latest start, Harrell back on right track

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Coming off a rough outing in his previous start on Saturday against the Tigers, right-hander Lucas Harrell righted the ship Thursday afternoon and stated his case to make the Astros' rotation by holding the Phillies to six hits and one run in 4 1/3 innings.

Harrell, who's among four battling for the final two spots in the rotation, has allowed one earned run in four of his five starts this spring. The aberration was a 12-hit, nine-earned run effort against the Tigers that did a number on his spring ERA.

"Some of the good things I've been taking out of my outings are weak contact," Harrell said. "I felt like I got some weak contact today, some balls on the ground, and that's mainly what I'm looking for. "

Astros manager Bo Porter was pleased with the way Harrell attacked the zone and used his curveball early in counts and a couple of times to get himself back into counts Thursday. Harrell, who's out of options, will have at least one more outing.

"Every time is crucial, I feel like," Harrell said. "As a person that's a competitor, I want to go out and pitch every time. I don't care. My next time out I definitely need to throw well to give myself a chance to make this team."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.