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Kelly chosen as Cardinals' No. 5 starter after win

Sunday, 23 March 2014 18:25 Published in Sports
 
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Joe Kelly was told that he will be the Cardinals' No. 5 starter after taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning Sunday in St. Louis' 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
 
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Carlos Martinez will go to the bullpen.
 
"We are just in a spot where we've got to try and figure out what is best for our club," said Matheny, noting that Martinez is a proven commodity in the bullpen.
 
Kelly lost a competition last spring to Shelby Miller, but moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation later in the year. He started 15 games for the Cardinals in the regular season and four more in the postseason and has a 3.08 ERA.
 
Martinez thrived in the setup role late last season, including in the playoffs. He will return to eighth inning duty, setting up closer Trevor Rosenthal, despite allowing only three earned runs and striking out nine in 15 1-3 spring innings.
 
"I believe that he is eventually going to be a starter and I believe he is going to be a very good one, but right now we need him to help our club out of the bullpen," Matheny said.
 
Kelly's control fluctuated in Sunday's start, during which he struck out five but also walked four. He allowed two runs and two hits in the sixth and didn't get an out before being lifted.
 
"I wouldn't say it was great, by any means," Kelly said before learning he would be in the rotation. "The walks are just something that I absolutely don't like."
 
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta gave the Cardinals the lead in the second with his third homer of the spring. Matt Holliday hit his first in the third and Matt Adams also connected in the third, a two-run shot off Astros starter Jerome Williams.
 
Williams gave up six runs and nine hits in four innings.
 
"It was one of those days where balls were finding the bats and balls were finding the holes," Williams said. "I left about three or four pitches up and they took advantage of them."
 
Closer Trevor Rosenthal took a comebacker off his backside in the ninth. The ball caromed to third baseman Daniel Descalso, who threw to first in time to get Marwin Gonzalez. Rosenthal remained in the game and recorded the save.
 
STARTING TIME
 
Astros: Williams has allowed 10 runs in 7 2-3 innings over his past two Grapefruit League outings.
 
"It's kind of bad that it's happening now at end the of spring," Williams said. "Hopefully I can just turn it around before the season starts."
 
Cardinals: While Matheny named Kelly to the starting rotation, he declined to give the order in which the starters will appear. Adam Wainwright will be the Cardinals opening-day starter. He will be followed, in an order to be announced later by Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller and Kelly.
 
TRAINER'S ROOM
 
Cardinals: Jaime Garcia threw a 25-pitch bullpen session from the mound for the first time since the second week of spring. Garcia had experienced soreness in his surgically-repaired shoulder. He was expected to contend for the Cardinals' fifth starting spot before experiencing the discomfort.
 
Reliever Jason Motte is scheduled to long toss on Monday as he works his way back from ligament replacement surgery.
 
DIAZ DOWN
 
The Cardinals sent five players to the minors - one of whom was 23-year-old Aledmys Diaz. The newly-signed Cuban shortstop went 3 for 5 in two major league games before heading to Double-A Springfield.
 
"He just kind of plays a little more experienced baseball than you would expect him to," Matheny said.
 
DOWN TO THREE
 
St. Louis also optioned reliever Sam Freeman and outfielder Joey Butler to Triple-A Memphis. With Freeman gone, that leaves Jorge Rondon, Keith Butler and Scott McGregor competing for the final spot in the Cardinals' bullpen. The Cardinals also optioned infielder Greg Garcia to Triple-A Memphis and re-assigned infielder Luis Mateo to minor league camp.
 
MORE TO COME
 
Houston manager Bo Porter expects first baseman Chris Carter to produce better offensive statistics than 2013's breakthrough season in which he hit 29 home runs but only posted a .239 average.
 
"I think just the experience of playing everyday last year will help in that regard - lower strikeouts, more contact, more homers," Porter said.
 

Saint Louis comes up short from long range

Saturday, 22 March 2014 22:20 Published in Sports
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Saint Louis did something it hasn't done all season Saturday — and it proved costly against defending national champion Louisville.
 
The Billikens went 0 for 15 from 3-point range in a 66-51 loss in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
 
They shot long, came up short, missed to both sides and even had a couple blocked. It was easily the team's worst long-ranging shooting performance of the season.
 
Saint Louis, a 32-percent shooting team from behind the arc this season, had made at least two 3s in every game and had 190 total. They hit 9 of 18 treys in Thursday's come-from-behind, overtime victory against North Carolina State.
 
"I thought we took a lot of good shots today," said forward Dwayne Evans, who led the way with 16 points but missed his only 3-point attempt. "They weren't falling, but we had the right guys in the right spots."
 
Saint Louis (27-7) shot 40 percent from the field.
 
Mike McCall Jr. missed all six of his 3-pointers. Jake Barnett (0-4), Jordair Jett (0-2), Rob Loe (0-1) and Austin McBroom (0-1) also misfired from that distance.
 
"We're going to keep taking shots if they're good shots," coach Jim Crews said. "We don't have a plan before a game to say, 'OK, we're going to take X number of 3s in this game and that game.' We don't do that because I think that you've got to have a balance to be really good."
 
The champs had a lot to do with Saint Louis' struggles.
 
Louisville (31-5) mixed defenses repeatedly, using man-to-man, the 2-3 zone and even a little 1-1-3 to make sure no Billikens could get open looks from the corners.
 
"We wanted to smother the 3," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "This team reminds me of Colorado State last year: Extremely well coached in all phases of the game. And we felt if we gave up the 3 we could get beat tonight, so we will take that away."
 
It worked to perfection.
 
Louisville made six treys. Luke Hancock, who finished with 21 points, drained two 3s midway through the second half that helped the Cardinals create some cushion in a tight game.
 
Saint Louis just couldn't answer.
 
The Cardinals have the size and athleticism to close out on the 3-point line, and it showed Saturday.
 
Making matters worse for the Billikens, they had 18 turnovers. Louisville had nine steals to go with five blocks.
 
"They're very good defensively," Crews said. "They change things up. They do press and they play zone and have different shifts and so forth, and they mix it up with man. They keep you a little bit off balance with that, which is a good thing because basketball is a rhythmic game and they keep you out of rhythm with it."

Flyers top Blues 4-1 for 5th straight win

Saturday, 22 March 2014 22:17 Published in Sports
 
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Scott Hartnell and Brayden Schenn each scored in the second period to rally the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-1 win Saturday over the St. Louis Blues and a fifth straight victory.
 
Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds added goals, and Steve Mason made 32 saves to help Philadelphia improve to 12-2-1 in its last 15 games to maintain its hold on second place in the Metropolitan Division.
 
Jaden Schwartz opened the scoring 6:23 into the game, finishing a 2-on-1 short-handed opportunity after taking a feed from Kevin Shattenkirk. Schwartz's wrist shot from close range went under the glove of Mason.
 
St. Louis needed one point in the game to become the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot.
 
Goaltender Ryan Miller lost for the second time as a member of the Blues since being traded from Buffalo on Feb. 28. Miller had his first setback in Wednesday's 4-0 defeat at Chicago, a game in which he was pulled after allowing four goals on 27 shots. He fell to 7-2-1 with St. Louis.
 
The Flyers dominated the second period when they erased a 1-0 deficit with a pair of goals to enter the final period ahead 2-1. Hartnell tied the game 57 seconds into the period when he finished from right in front of the crease after a cross-ice pass from Voracek.
 
Miller appeared to try to stop the pass and was caught slightly out of position, and Hartnell fired a wrister high into the open side of the net.
 
Schenn put Philadelphia up a goal when he scored on a rebound with 6:36 left in the period.
 
Simmonds took the initial shot after receiving a pass from Schenn. Miller's rebound went right to Schenn, who went top shelf with a backhander over the sprawling Blues goaltender.
 
Mason preserved Philadelphia's one-goal lead with a pair of strong saves on Derek Roy with nine minutes remaining on a power play by St. Louis. Schwartz took the initial shot and the rebound went to Roy, who was stopped by Mason's pads on his first attempt and gloved on the second.
 
Voracek provided a cushion when he beat Miller high to the stick side with 4:19 left. Hartnell stole the puck along the boards, fed to Claude Giroux in the right circle and Giroux passed to wide-open Voracek.
 
Simmonds scored an empty-netter with 2:54 remaining.
 
Flyers winger Steve Downie was lost for the game with an upper body injury after a collision with Patrik Berglund early in the contest. Downie had his head turned when he skated right into Berglund near the boards at center ice. Downie missed four games this season after suffering a concussion during a fight against Washington on Nov. 2.
 
Giroux had four of the 11 Philadelphia penalties. His eight penalty minutes were one-fourth of the total penalty minutes (32) he entered with this season.
 
The Central Division-leading Blues entered the game leading the Western Conference in points and tied with Boston for most points in the NHL with 101.
 
Notes: St. Louis LW Magnus Paajarvi returned after missing the last three games with an upper body injury. The Blues remained without D Jordan Leopold (ankle) and RW Vladimir Tarasenko (hand). .. It was the first meeting between the teams since Oct. 22, 2011 when the Blues won 4-2 in Philadelphia. ... The teams will meet for the second time this season on April 1 in St. Louis. After playing with a plain white mask in his first nine games with St. Louis, Miller unveiled a music-themed goalie mask on Saturday. ... Blues RW T.J. Oshie, who entered with a team-best 54 points, went to the locker room with 11 minutes remaining after blocking a slap shot from Simmonds in the slot but later returned.

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