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Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Astros' arbitration win over Loretta keeps teams' record perfect

ESPN.com news services

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Houston Astros defeated former All-Star Mark Loretta in salary arbitration Tuesday, improving teams to 5-0 against players this year and clinching the 12th consecutive winning year for management.

Loretta will be paid $2.75 million rather than the $4.9 million he requested.

"There is a little bit of emotion, because you're trying to win," Loretta said after his first workout with the team. "But I think both sides felt like they had good cases. It could've gone either way."

Astros general manager Ed Wade told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that he's happy the process is over.

"I talked to Mark after our staff meeting today and told him it's unfortunate that we had to go through this process, but I'm glad it's behind us," Wade said. "It's time to concentrate on baseball."

The 36-year-old hit .287 with four home runs and 41 RBIs in 133 games last year. A two-time All-Star, Loretta appeared at all four infield positions, playing mostly at shortstop (72 games) after Adam Everett broke his right leg on June 14.

Loretta made $3.5 million last season, became a free agent, then accepted the Astros' offer of arbitration.

His case was heard Monday by arbitrators Margaret Brogan, Stephen Goldberg and Fredric Horowitz.

"I'm not quite sure what arbitrators are going to take into account in that situation," Loretta said. "But I thought the club handled it very well, they're very professional. There was no personal attack.

"You hear horror stories about arbitration. I certainly didn't anticipate this would be contentious, and it wasn't."

Owners also defeated pitchers Brian Fuentes of Colorado, Jose Valverde of Houston and Chien-Ming Wang of the New York Yankees, along with Washington infielder Felipe Lopez.

Three players remain in arbitration: Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard, Los Angeles Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez and New York Mets pitcher Oliver Perez.

Players have not had a winning year since going 7-3 in 1996. Owners lead 277-203 since the process began in 1974.

ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark and The Associated Press contributed to this report.