Cardinals strike early to back dominant Wacha
Righty goes 3 2/3 scoreless innings; Carpenter, Wong have two hits apiece
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong both produced two hits, and Michael Wacha authored a solid outing on the mound, as the Cardinals took a 6-4 victory over the Astros on Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.
Wacha got the better of another second-year pitcher, Houston's Jarred Cosart, as he made his third start of the spring in pursuit of a rotation spot. Last year's National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits while striking out five.
"I think so," Wacha said when asked if his command was better Friday than it had been in his two previous outings. "I was pretty happy with the no walks up there. If I can keep on continuing with that and keep on continuing to pound the strike zone and getting the first-pitch strike over, I feel like I'll have better success."
Cosart struck out the side in the first inning, but the Cardinals got to him in the second. Matt Adams singled, Yadier Molina walked and Wong legged out a bunt to load the bases. Xavier Scruggs forced in a run with a walk, and one out later, Pete Kozma drove in another with a fielder's choice. Carpenter capped the scoring with an RBI single.
St. Louis struck again in the fourth, as Wong lashed a triple over leaping center fielder Dexter Fowler before coming home on Scruggs' line-drive double to left. Randal Grichuk then launched a deep fly ball to center, but this time Fowler made a highlight catch as he crashed into the wall more than 400 feet away. Two batters later, Carpenter stretched the lead to 5-0 with an RBI double down the right-field line off lefty reliever Raul Valdes.
Wong, who started the spring 0-for-10, is now 9-for-17 over his past five games.
Cosart ran his pitch count up to 74 in 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on five hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.
The Astros scored four runs against Cardinals relievers in the seventh, putting a runner on base via a wild pitch on a strikeout and benefiting from a walk and two errors. Jon Singleton, who snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a home run on Friday, smacked a two-run triple into the right-center field gap, and Matt Dominguez hit an RBI infield single.
Jose Altuve added two hits for Houston, upping his spring average to .321.
Up next: The Cardinals will play in Central Florida for a second straight day on Saturday, as they make their only spring trip to the Braves' spring home in Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. Joe Kelly will be making his third spring start for the Cardinals, who defeated Atlanta, 11-0, on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT on Gameday Audio. Beginning with Saturday's game, the Cardinals will drop the designated hitter from their lineup.