Kyle Lobstein, filling the rotation spot that awaits Justin Verlander's return to game action, became the first Tiger this spring to pitch three innings. He held the Astros hitless, allowing only a walk while striking out four of the first seven batters he faced, with a good change of speeds.
Astros starter Scott Feldman, making his first appearance in a Houston uniform after signing a three-year contract in the offseason, threw two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk.
Feldman threw his complete arsenal in his first start.
"That's how I pitched during the season, just trying to get a feel for everything as quickly as I can," Feldman said. "It usually doesn't come right away, but I've worked on everything and threw all my pitches today."
Brad Peacock followed Feldman with a quality third inning, but back-to-back singles from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez and an Alex Avila walk put Peacock in a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.
Up came Jackson, who has been batting around the middle of the order so far this spring, rather than his usual leadoff spot. His soft line drive fell in front of a charging George Springer in short center field to plate Cabrera and open the scoring.
Peacock surprised Kelly with a first-pitch curveball, but followed with a fastball that Kelly drove into the gap in right-center. Jackson stopped at third, but Nick Castellanos and Hernan Perez emptied the bases with sacrifice flies.
"He threw a pretty good curveball on that first pitch," Kelly said. "I'd never faced him before, I think. He was throwing pretty firm. He seemed to cut [the ball] a little bit, too."
Brett Wallace provided Houston's lone run with an RBI groundout, scoring Carlos Correa in the sixth.
Up next: Reigning American League ERA champion Anibal Sanchez begins his 2014 prep work on Sunday afternoon when he makes the start for the Tigers' return trip to Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter are scheduled to make the trip. The 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Braves will be broadcast online at MLB Gameday Audio and back in Detroit on 97.1 FM.