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Phillies 7, Astros 6

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP)

Ben Francisco came into camp fighting for a spot on the Philles' roster. He's heading to Philadelphia the starting right fielder.

Francisco hit a three-run homer to help the Phillies beat the Houtson Astros 7-6 on Monday before boarding a plane to Philadelphia.

With top prospect Domonic Brown starting the season in the minors after he returns from hand surgery, Francisco will replace Jayson Werth, who left for a huge payday with Washington.

Francisco finished the spring hitting .385 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 26 games.

''He had a good spring,'' Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

The Phillies gave most of their regulars the day off against the team they will face on opening day April 1.

''We're ready,'' Manuel said. ''We've been ready for a while.''

Former major leaguer Nate Bump, in minor league camp with the Phillies, held Houston to one run on eight hits in five innings.

Houston right-hander Bud Norris, who is not scheduled to pitch in Philadelphia, was hit hard. Norris gave up seven runs on six hits while walking four and striking out two in five innings.

''He was strong and sometimes too strong,'' Astros manager Brad Mills said. ''There were some pitches around the zone early that he didn't get but pitching behind in the count really hurt him.''

Placido Polanco played for the second time in three days. Struggling with an elbow injury the last two weeks, Polanco went 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored.

Although Polanco played, the Phillies head North without Chase Utley, who has a right knee injury. Closer Brad Lidge will also begin the season on the DL with a right shoulder ailment.

''There are a lot of guys we're going to miss, that make us a better team. But unfortunately there's nothing you can do but go out and continue to play,'' Roy Halladay said.

Still the four-time defending National League East champs remain confident in their chances.

''I'm anxious and ready to get to Philly and get this thing going,'' left-hander Cliff Lee said.

NOTES: Utley said he's started to take light fielding work in the last few days. Utley, who has been sidelined with a right knee surgery since the exhibition season began last month, traveled with the team to Philadelphia, where he'll continue his rehab. Although his return remains unknown, Utley will not be placed on the 60-day disabled list, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Right-hander Michael Stutes, left-hander Juan Perez and catcher Dane Sardinha traveled with the team to Philadelphia and will be available to play in a two-game exhibition series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday and Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. Lee threw three innings in a simulated, intrasquad minor league game. He is on tap to make his 2011 debut Saturday night against the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park. ... Astros C J.R. Towles took 25 swings off a tee back in Kissimmee. Towles has had back spasms. He will break camp as Houston's backup catcher to Humberto Quintero. Mills named Brett Wallace the team's starting first baseman. Wallace hit .379 this spring.

Tagged: Astros, Phillies, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Ben Francisco

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