After rough start, Lidge no longer Houston's closer

CHICAGO -- One week into the season, the Houston Astros have
a new closer.

Brad Lidge was demoted Monday in favor of Dan Wheeler, a move
made one day after Lidge gave up five runs in two-thirds of an
inning against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wheeler made the most of his first opportunity, throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his first save in Houston's 5-3 win over the Cubs

Lidge has saved 29 or more games in each of the last three
seasons for Houston but had a 16.20 ERA and a blown save entering
Monday's game against the Chicago Cubs. The Astros started the
season with five losses in six games.

"I wrestled with this all of yesterday," manager Phil Garner
said. "I feel that I have to make this move for the benefit of the
team. In the situation that we are in right now, we can't afford to
lose any more ballgames late."

Lidge was 1-5 with a 5.28 ERA and 32 saves in 38 chances last

"It was surprising, but not totally unjustified," he said. "I
understand that it's about results. Right now, my first two outings
haven't been there."

Lidge will be used in middle relief, and Garner left open the
possibility Lidge could regain his job as closer.

"I don't know how much time this will take," Garner said. "It
may be that he throws three or four times and gets thrust back into
the closing role."

Wheeler is now 0-1 with one save and a 6.00 ERA in three games.