KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Infielder Drew Sutton's home run in the bottom of the sixth inning gave his team a 4-3 win Tuesday in the Houston Astros' intrasquad game.
The six-inning game was highlighted by four home runs and diving plays in both the infield and outfield as the Astros got ready to open their Grapefruit League schedule Wednesday against Washington.
"Anytime you're going to play games you're going to feel better about going out and making plays against competition," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "A lot of this practice stuff, you don't always give it everything you got. Once the games start you see players kind of pick it up a notch."
Besides Sutton's shot, Hunter Pence and Lou Palmisano hit home runs and outfielder Yordany Ramirez hit an inside-the-park home run that center fielder Reggie Abercrombie just missed with a diving catch.
Earlier Ramirez had his own diving attempt in left field come up short off the bat of Houston's first-round draft pick Jason Castro. Ramirez fully extended but ended up with just a dirty uniform on Castro's double.
"Yordany is a very impressive defensive player," Cooper said. "He's a kid with a lot of skills. We're just trying to get him to make more contact and have a little more discipline."
Palmisano's home run off Clay Hensley was the hardest shot of the day. He easily cleared the 390-foot wall and didn't need any bit of the wind that was briskly blowing out to left.
It was a good start to Palmisano's spring as he is fighting for one of two catcher spots on the roster.
"It doesn't mean anything when it's against your own team but it was good to see a live pitcher and have some success," Palmisano said. "A lot of guys put some good hits on balls and the pitchers threw well. We're looking forward to seeing what we can do when games get going."
Sutton also had a double and is in the running for a backup infielder spot.
"He's a tremendous offensive player," Cooper said. "We're trying to figure out where to play him. Right now we're thinking second, probably third base and he'll get some time at short.
"He's been impressive here at camp so far and has a good chance to continue to play."
Wandy Rodriguez and Brian Moehler started for both sides and didn't allow a run. There were 12 pitchers used in the game. Fernando Nieve and Jose Capellan, along with Rodriguez, had the only clean innings.
Note@: Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Miguel Tejada and Jose Valverde were held out of the game. … The Astros held their annual fan fest early Tuesday morning. About 75 fans attended and were greeted by Astros players Doug Brocail, J.R. Towles, Geoff Geary, Brian Moehler, Lou Santangelo, Wesley Wright and Mark Saccomanno. … Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is scheduled to throw out the first pitch to open the spring schedule.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.