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03/20/10 7:45 PM ET

Race heats up for remaining rotation spots

Talbot's strong showing doesn't give him edge, says Acta

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The showdown for the remaining spots in the Indians' starting rotation isn't a duel in the desert -- but only because there are more than two pitchers involved.

The three shooting it out ratcheted up the competition the last two days.

On Friday, Aaron Laffey threw four blanks at Texas.

Saturday, Mitch Talbot fired 3 1/3 zeroes at Oakland before emptying his chamber. A little later in the Cactus League game against the A's, David Huff went four innings and allowed three runs.

On the surface, Talbot appeared to get the best of Huff in their pitch-off in Cleveland's 12-4 victory.

However, manager Manny Acta sounded as if he gave the decision to Huff, on style points.

"Talbot wasn't as sharp as he was the last time, but he did make pitches when he had to. Too bad he ran out of pitches," Acta said, alluding to Talbot having reached his pitch limit by the time he struck out Corey Brown for the first out in the fourth.

"Huff stayed aggressive and continued to pound the strike zone," Acta added, discounting the home runs off the lefty by Kevin Kouzmanoff and Matt Carson.

The alphabetical scorecard with two weeks remaining in Spring Training:

• Huff: 12 1/3 innings, 10 runs allowed -- four walks and six strikeouts.

• Laffey: 10 2/3 innings, five runs -- four walks and five strikeouts.

• Talbot: 11 1/3 innings, one run -- one walk and seven strikeouts.

Acta's handicap?

"Everyone's tied for first," the manager said. "We'll make the decision at the end of Spring Training."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.