HOUSTON — A no-decision never felt better to Juan Nicasio.
Making his first start since a terrifying neck injury in August, the right-hander allowed one run on five hits in seven innings in the Rockies' 3-2 loss to the Astros on Sunday.
"I wasn't nervous, I was feeling good," Nicasio said. "Thank you God, because I wanted to have the opportunity to get to the mound, I want to go to compete. Just get it out of the way. It's time."
Nicasio, 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 13 starts as a rookie last season, was hurt Aug. 5 when a line drive by Washington's Ian Desmond hit him. He had surgery to have two pins inserted into his cracked C-1 vertebra and also had a small metal plate attached to the back of his neck.
Despite the loss, SS Troy Tulowitzki said Nicasio's return gave everyone in the Colorado clubhouse a boost.
"To see him pitch, after what he's gone through," Tulowitzki said, "that's a big accomplishment."
In other Rockies news, 1B Jason Giambi drew three walks to give him 1,317 for his career, tying Mark McGwire for 38th in major-league history.
STILL APOLOGIZING: Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said he approached the Spanish language radio broadcast team of Felo Ramirez and Yiki Quintana and offered a personal apology for his remarks praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Both Quintana and Ramirez, a Hall of Fame broadcaster, are Cuban-born.
BLUE JAYS: RHP Joel Carreno was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas after he lost his first major-league start. Manager John Farrell said LHP Aaron Laffey will be called up from Las Vegas and used in relief.
BRAVES: 3B Chipper Jones is expected to work out in Houston before tonight's game at the Astros. He is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday after surgery March 26 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
CUBS: 2B Blake DeWitt was scratched from the lineup because of back spasms.
GIANTS: C Buster Posey hit his first home run in nearly a year. He was out for the season after a home-plate collision May 25.
INDIANS: 1B Casey Kotchman, the former Seminole High standout who started for the Rays last season, snapped an 0-for-13 start with a fourth-inning single.
NATIONALS: RHP Chien-Ming Wang felt good a day after throwing off a mound for the first time since suffering a severe left hamstring strain on March 15. Wang is still at least a week away from beginning a rehab assignment.
PADRES: RHP Dustin Moseley went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder, three days after RHP Tim Stauffer went on the DL with a strained right elbow. Manager Bud Black said RHP Anthony Bass will start either Thursday, which would have been Moseley's next start, or Saturday.
PHILLIES: Jim Thome made his first start at first base since 2007. He was perfect in the field and turned a 3-6-3 double play in the fourth.
REDS: 2B Brandon Phillips got his 1,000th career hit with the team with a single in the second inning.
RED SOX: A bullpen meltdown overshadowed a terrible start by RHP Clay Buchholz, who allowed seven runs and eight hits in four innings against the Tigers in his first start since June because of a stress fracture in his back. Buchholz had gone 42 straight starts since the start of 2010 without allowing more than five earned runs.
YANKEES: Manager Joe Girardi said Alex Rodriguez will be the DH tonight at Baltimore and might DH twice during the three-game series. … LHP Andy Pettitte will pitch for Class A Tampa tonight in a 7 p.m. game at Clearwater in his second outing following a one-year retirement.