KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Phillies starter Cliff Lee worked two scoreless innings and gave up two hits with no walks or strikeouts in a 6-3 loss to the Astros. It marked his first game action since July 31 after he went on the disabled list with a left elbow strain and missed the rest of the regular season.
Because he was battling for a spot on the roster a year ago, Astros right-hander Collin McHugh didn't even get a chance to start a game in the spring. He didn't make the club, but he was called up by the end of April and wound up making 25 starts and becoming a great story.
McHugh took the ball for the Astros' Spring Training opener Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium in only the second start of his career in a Spring Training game. Instead of worrying about a spot on the club, McHugh can focus on getting in his work.
McHugh sailed through two scoreless innings against the Phillies, striking out three batters and walking one.
"In terms of just kind of mental space, it's different because I've never been here, never broken camp with a team before," McHugh said. "It's different, but I'm excited because I'm honored to be called one of the five guys who gets the ball."
With the starting pitchers out of the way, the Astros blasted three homers in a span of two innings to take a 4-1 lead. Luis Valbuena, making his first appearance in a Houston uniform, socked a solo homer in the fourth inning, and Robbie Grossman and Marwin Gonzalez homered on consecutive pitches off Phillippe Aumont in the fifth.
Up next: The Phillies return home Friday to play the Yankees. Left-hander Cole Hamels, who has been at the center of trade rumors all offseason, will get the start in front of the Bright House Field crowd and an array of scouts. The 1:05 p.m. ET start will be broadcast live on MLB.TV.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.