HOUSTON -- While closer Matt Lindstrom has been rapidly piling up the saves in the past 10 days for the Astros, setup man Brandon Lyon has put his early-season struggles behind him. Lyon entered Wednesday's game against the Reds having not allowed a run in four consecutive outings.
"I feel good," Lyon said. "Obviously, I was behind schedule in Spring Training, but things are starting to come around. I was two weeks behind to start out and you don't get as outings as you're used to. The more and more I get out there, the better and better I feel."
Lindstrom was behind the throwing schedule of his fellow pitchers entering Spring Training after having a cyst drained in his right shoulder in January. He came into camp competing with Lindstrom with the closer's job, but Lindstrom was healthy from the get-go and pitched well, too.
"Competing against one of my teammate is not the way I looked at it," Lyon said. "If asks me for advice, I'm going to help him out. We're not competing for the same job, we're competing to make this team better. He's very capable of doing the job and is doing a great job."
Entering Wednesday, the Astros' bullpen ranked eighth in the National League with a 4.03 ERA, and Lyon credits camaraderie.
"We're our own little team inside a team," he said. "We go out there every game and keep our team in the game whatever the situation is. We're like a special forces unit. Everybody knows their job and no job is more important than the other."
Mills moves Pence down, slots in Matsui
HOUSTON -- Manager Brad Mills used his 18th different lineup in 20 games Wednesday, with Pedro Feliz hitting fifth behind Lance Berkman and ahead of Hunter Pence, who hit in the fifth position the previous 12 games. Feliz leads the team with 10 RBIs.
Facing Reds right-hander Mike Leake, Kaz Matsui was in back in the starting lineup at second base, with Jeff Keppinger starting at shortstop. That's only Matsui's third start in the past 11 games.
"We want to get Matsui in the ballgame," Mills said. "We just can't forget about him, either. I've said this before, he's going to be an important part of our success this season, and we need to get him in there. Flip-flopping Feliz and Pence -- Pedro is leading our team in RBIs and has done pretty well against some right-handed pitching, so we'll bump up right now."
Though Matsui has seen his playing time cut dramatically in favor of Keppinger, Mills said the former Japanese All-Star hasn't complained out his playing time. Matsui had four hits in his first 30 at-bats.
"He's done a great job coming out every day and getting his work in and working on everything he needs to be ready to play," Mills said.
Berkman big on promoting young arms
HOUSTON -- The sight of Reds rookie pitcher Mike Leake on the Major League roster to start this season -- less than a year after he was drafted -- was applauded by Astros first baseman Lance Berkman, who's a proponent of moving young pitchers at a rapid pace.
"It's very unusual to have a guy that has no Minor League experience whatsoever, but it just shows you that pitching is pitching," Berkman said. "Good pitching will beat good hitting, and if he's a good pitcher he's going to be successful."
The Astros have some talented young arms in their Minor League system that could be knocking on the door of the Majors soon -- right-hander Jordan Lyles at Double-A Corpus Christi and right-hander Ross Seaton and left-hander Brad Dydalewicz at Class A Lancaster.
"I believe a good arm is a good arm," Berkman said. "Not that you don't need seasoning for some guys, but let's face it -- the older guys get, the less effective they become, because they lose their velocity or whatever. I'd rather have a guy that's young and fresh and has electricity in his arm.
"If you have a guy you really think is going to be special, you don't want to hurt him and you don't want to rush him until he gets used to the workload they're going to be expected to carry. You see guys all the time that have success that have not very much time in the Minor Leagues. Hopefully, we have a couple of guys like that in our Minor League system."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.