Brad Penny looked like a million bucks Saturday afternoon as he plowed through the Marlins with a mix of heaters and curveballs.
But the highly touted Cardinals offense appeared to be down a couple of cylinders as the Birds could only manage four hits in a squeaker of a 3-2 win.
The roughest looking of the St. Louis starters so far this spring, Penny hurled six innings while allowing five hits and a walk. He struck out six. Penny's biggest jam came when he allowed the Marlins to get a couple of men on before throwing a pickoff attempt at first into the right field, allowing one runner to score from second and the other to make it to third with one out. Penny got the hitter to top the ball right in front of the plate and catcher Jason LaRue managed to pick it up and tag the runner coming home before he was able to score to preserve the lead.
Penny had a scary moment when a Marlins batsman lined a ball up the middle which Penny blocked with his foot. The Cardinals hurler made the play at first base and then limped a lap around the mound as manager Tony La Russa hurried out to check on him. Penny was able to continue...
Trever Miller and Blake Hawksworth came in and pitched effectively. Then Jason Motte and Ryan Franklin made it interesting.
Motte gave up two hits before wiggling out of trouble in the eighth. Franklin came in for the ninth and gave up a pair of hits and a run before clamping down and closing out the game.
Joe Mather again played centerfield... And again he went 0-for-3. His batting average is down to the .200 mark while his competitor for a reserve outfield spot, Nick Stavinoha, finished the game in right and didn't have an at bat.
Collecting the Cardinals hits were Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Brendan Ryan and David Freese with one safety each. Freese's knock was an RBI double to right center, the Cardinals' only extra base hit of the game.