Willis sharp for Tigers in 5-4 win over Astros

LAKELAND, FL – Dontrelle Willis is making a case for a spot in the Detroit Tigers' rotation, pitching three scoreless innings in a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday.

Willis struggled after straining his back in the first, but allowed just one hit. He hit one batter and walked another. He also hurt his right thumb fielding a line drive. That came one batter after another line drive glanced off his right knee.

Willis said he wanted to go longer but was having back spasms and was willing to settle for three innings. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said there was no reason to risk further injury to Willis, who has a 1.29 ERA after three starts this spring.

Brennan Boesch had a game-ending single in the ninth.