Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/23/12

The Houston Astros don't expect right-hander Lucas Harrell to perform regularly as he did Friday, when he struck out a career-high nine batters in a 2-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Harrell, however, took a major step in his continuing development by working out of trouble two of the few times he ran into it.

After allowing a triple to Shin-Soo Choo and a sacrifice fly to Asdrubal Cabrera to lead off the game, Harrell used a steady diet of cutters and two-seam fastballs against the Indians' predominately left-handed-hitting lineup.

Harrell allowed only two hits in seven innings, retiring 19 of the next 20 batters he faced after allowing the triple.

Harrell got into another jam in the seventh inning, issuing a pair of walks and a single to load the bases. But right fielder Brian Bogusevic bailed him out, catching a ball in foul territory and making a perfect throw to get the runner at home plate.

The lesson learned?

"If you want to pitch here and stay here a long time, you have to do that," Harrell said of escaping the seventh inning.

Astros manager Brad Mills liked Harrell's location of his fastball, which stayed down in the strike zone when he fell behind in the count.

"He stayed aggressive with his fastballs," Mills said.

Mills said that approach may not necessarily translate into high-strikeout totals but should benefit Harrell, who is primarily a groundball pitcher.

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