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AROUND THE NL

ASTROS: LHP Mike Hampton allowed eight hits and two walks in five-plus innings in a loss to the Dodgers, who opened the third inning with six straight hits. The outing pushed the Crystal River High graduate's ERA to 4.65.

BRAVES: RHP Bryan Harvey left Atlanta's loss to the Orioles with a strained muscle in his left side.

CUBS: The announced attendance for the team's home game against the Giants in Mesa was 12,538, the largest crowd ever to watch a spring training game in Arizona. Brant Brown, making a late bid for the Cubs' leftfield vacancy, had a run-scoring double and two singles. He is 7-for-8 in his past three games, raising his average to .400.

DODGERS: RHP Chan Ho Park started the winning rally in his own support with a single and threw well in four innings of work, tossing 44 of his 65 pitches for strikes. Park allowed five hits and a walk while striking out four.

MARLINS: LHP Al Leiter, who had given up four earned runs in his first five innings this spring, gave up just one run, three hits and two walks in five innings against the Tigers, who have lost nine of their past 10. Leiter struck out five. Florida won its 21st game of the spring.

METS: The starting rotation is in trouble. The No. 1 starter, RHP Pete Harnisch, can't get anybody out, and he isn't sure why. The No. 2 starter, RHP Mark Clark, isn't throwing his slider with any consistency, and after giving up seven runs in five innings, he has an ERA of 8.50. RHP Armando Reynoso, projected as the No. 4 starter, has elbow trouble that may sideline him until late April. The seven pitchers being considered for the rotation, from Harnisch to rookie LHP Joe Crawford, have a cumulative spring ERA of 6.57. Remove steady RHP Bobby Jones (1.69) from that equation, and the number soars to 7.27. SS Rey Ordonez, who is coming back from a sore shoulder, has been given the go-ahead to throw full strength in a relay drill today. Manny Alexander, acquired in a trade with Baltimore on Saturday, started at second base and had a double in four at-bats.

PADRES: RHP Andy Ashby pitched seven strong innings, his longest outing of the spring, as the Padres beat their minor-league organization all-stars. Ashby allowed nine hits, two earned runs, walked two and struck out five in a 100-plus pitch performance before 3,496 in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. OF Tony Gwynn played all nine innings and had a pair of hits.

PIRATES: LHP Steve Cooke made his second straight strong start as he continues his belated comeback from reconstructive surgery on his shoulder. Cooke has not allowed an earned run in 11 innings in his past two starts, shutting out the Red Sox on two hits over eight innings March 16.

ROCKIES: Dante Bichette homered in his first at-bat of the spring Saturday. Bichette, still recovering from off-season knee surgery, was the designated hitter.

_ TIMES WIRES

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