By Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - Houston newcomer Doug Fister struck out four in two shutout innings as the Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 on Thursday.

The 32-year-old Fister spent the last two seasons with Washington, then signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Astros as a free agent in late January.

Fister faced nine batters and fanned Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz in back-to-back at-bats to end his first inning.

“I know it’s early for me, but it’s early for hitters, too. They have got to hone their skills in, too,” Fister said. “But I’ll take it. Absolutely.”

George Springer got hits and scored a run for Houston. Matt Duffy hit a long homer over the left field fence and out of the ballpark at Bright House Field.

Peter Bourjos, Odubel Herrera and catching prospect Andrew Knapp each had two hits for Philadelphia.

Both Bourjos and Knapp reached on hits in the opening inning against Fister, who responded by escaping trouble with a pair of strikeouts.

Last summer was one of Fister’s most trying seasons in the major leagues, as health and inconsistency led to a demotion to the bullpen in August.

“Obviously not where I wanted to be, I had some ups and downs,” Fister said. “But we’re going to face adversity, we’re going to face some hard times.”

“There’s no room for complaining in this game. No one is going to feel sorry for you. You’ve go out here and earn it back. And for me, that’s what I want to do. I want to build back as a starter and be somebody my teammates can rely on,” he said.


Astros: Fister gave up two hits and walked one. He’s competing with Mike Fiers and Scott Feldman for the last two spots in the Houston rotation.

Phillies: RHP Jake Thompson made his first start in a Phillies uniform since being a part of a trade package the Texas Rangers sent over last July to pry Cole Hamels way before the trade deadline. Thompson, who went 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in seven starts at Double-A Reading after the deal, allowed one unearned run in two innings against the Astros.

“The hype for them is so high - the talk is there and they read their names in the paper - they get excited and it gives them a lot of confidence,” manager Pete Mackanin said of Thompson and fellow right-hander Zach Eflin, who was traded for Jimmy Rollins in December 2014. “It brings them back to earth and they realize that they have to get back to business.”


Astros: Luke Gregerson (oblique) threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and will likely throw another in the coming days before jumping into games within the next week.

Phillies: OF/INF Cody Asche (oblique) took dry swings but Mackanin said he was “coming along slowly” in returning to regular action. … INF Andres Blanco (shoulder) could return to the lineup as soon as Friday.


Astros: Host the St. Louis Cardinals, with Wandy Rodriguez scheduled to pitch against fellow left-hander Jaime Garcia.

Phillies: Send right-hander Jeremy Hellickson to the mound when they host RHP Lucas Sims and the Atlanta Braves.


Astros starting catcher Max Stassi was greeted by his brother, Brock, a first baseman in camp with the Phillies, before taking batting practice. Their great uncle, Myril Hoag, once played in a New York Yankees outfield with Babe Ruth in the 1930s.

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