HOUSTON -- Right-hander Brian Moehler, who's been on the disabled list since July 8 with a right groin strain, threw 40 pitches in the bullpen prior to Saturday's game, moving a step closer to returning to action. Moehler had a tendon tear from a bone in his groin area, but he was advised to not have surgery.

"If he stays on track, we could probably put his rehab schedule together for him," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "If he moves in a straight line, we'll get him out and get him pitching somewhere."

Wade said right-hander Felipe Paulino, who's been on the disabled list since June 21 with right shoulder tendinitis, continues to feel better. Shortstop Tommy Manzella is continuing his rehab from a fractured left index finger and is hitting .407 (11-for-27) through eight games combined at Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock.

"We're playing it by ear at this point," Wade said about Manzella. "It's almost like he's going to Spring Training again. I can envision us using the entire 20 days we have [as a rehab period]. That doesn't mean he won't be back here before then, but we want him to be game ready when he gets here."

Lee makes rare start at first base

HOUSTON -- After hinting for a few weeks that left fielder Carlos Lee might make a few starts at first base, manager Brad Mills pulled the trigger Saturday and gave the slugger his first start at first base in nearly 11 years. Jason Michaels started in left field.

"He's very receptive and open to it and always gives us confidence to be able to do that," Mills said of Lee.

Lee had one previous appearance at first base this season, playing four innings at Milwaukee on Aug. 8. He played one inning at first base last year, which was his first appearance at first base since starting for the White Sox on Oct. 3, 1999.

"I just need to make sure to be in the right place when balls are hit in the gaps and for cut-offs and relays," Lee said. "Every time somebody gets on, just kind of remind myself that I've got to be in the right place and anticipate where to be."

Lee has been taking ground balls and making throws from first base during batting practice for several weeks.

"I had a lot of practice out there," he said. "We've been working on it, and the only way to find out is to go there and do it. I expect it to go pretty well. I'm used to taking ground balls and doing work on the field. I do it because I like it and it keeps me moving and keeps my legs in shape and ready to go."

Mills said Brett Wallace will get the majority of time at first the rest of the year, but he wanted to get Lee a start against a left-hander. Beginning Saturday, the Astros were scheduled to face four left-handers in their next six games.

Worth noting

The Astros' wives raised $350,000 for the Houston Area Women's Center during the 21st annual Black Ties and Baseball Caps Gala on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park. The event was chaired by Morgan Keppinger and Heather Byrdak.