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AROUND THE NL

ASTROS: Rookie RHP Chris Holt, contending for the rotation, allowed five hits in five scoreless innings against the Tigers, striking out seven and walking none. INF Luis Lopez was acquired from the Padres for LHP Sean Runyan. Eight players were sent to the minor-league camp: RHPs Oscar Henriquez and Blas Minor, LHPs Trever Miller and C.J. Nitkowski, C Mitch Meluskey, INF Carlos Guillen and OFs Kevin Flora and Ken Ramos.

BRAVES: OF Ryan Klesko was scratched from the lineup against the Mets after straining his back while running during batting practice. He received a cortisone shot and will miss today's game. 3B Chipper Jones, who left Saturday's game after being hit on the left foot by a pitch, was back in the lineup. LHP Denny Neagle, who missed a start Saturday, received a cortisone shot in his sore right shoulder and is expected to start Friday against the Astros.

CUBS: LHP Terry Mulholland improved to 3-0, allowing three runs and eight hits in five innings against the Mariners.

DODGERS: Utility player John Wehner was released. "I'll probably call Pittsburgh or Florida," Wehner said, adding he wouldn't limit his options to those two first choices. "I've got a lot of respect for the Dodgers doing it now. A lot of teams would have waited until the end of spring, when I'd have no chance of hooking up and making another club."

MARLINS: Manager Jim Leyland was unconcerned after RHP Pat Rapp gave up four runs and nine hits in four innings in an 11-5 loss to the Reds at Melbourne. "It's all part of it," Leyland said. "(Rapp) didn't have a very good outing today. That happens."

METS: RHP Pete Harnisch, the Mets' Opening Day starter, gave up 10 hits and eight runs over four innings against the Braves. He said his arm felt fine and blamed his outing on a lack of velocity on his fastball and lack of command on breaking pitches. INF Jason Hardtke was sent to minor-league camp, leaving 45 players in the major-league camp.

PIRATES: RHP Jon Lieber, who is 19-19 lifetime, will start the season opener April 1 at San Francisco. Lieber, who turns 27 on April 2, is the closest thing the Pirates have to a veteran in a rotation that also is likely to include RHPs Jason Schmidt, Esteban Loaiza and Francisco Cordova and either RHP Rich Loiselle or LHP Steve Cooke.

_ TIMES WIRES

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