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Astros release Duke, Cust

The Houston Astros have released pitcher Zach Duke and first baseman/outfielder Jack Cust.

Duke signed a minor league contract in January and struggled in four spring outings. He was roughed up for 18 runs on 25 hits, including five home runs, in just 14 1/3 innings.

The veteran lefty was 3-4 with a 4.93 earned run average in 21 games last season with Arizona after spending his first six years with Pittsburgh. An All-Star in 2009 with the Pirates, Duke has a career record of 48-74 with a 4.56 ERA in 181 games, including 168 starts.

Cust, who was signed to a major league deal in January, had just one hit in 25 at-bats this spring.

The 33-year-old veteran spent 2011 with Seattle after five seasons in Oakland. He is a career .242 hitter with 105 homers in 670 big league games over 10 seasons with Arizona, Colorado, Baltimore, San Diego, Oakland and Seattle.

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