Kyle McClellan is making like Ted Nugent, putting the fifth starter's job in a stranglehold with another dominant spring performance.
He tossed five innings of one hit ball at Atlanta to lead the Cardinals to a 4-0 win on a sunny, 78 degree day in south Florida. He struck out five and walked two, lowering his Grapefruit League ERA to 0.75 in the process.
Skip Schumaker and Lance Berkman paced the offense with a pair of hits apiece. The Cardinals big inning came in the bottom of the sixth when, leading 1-0, Albert Pujols reached on an error and Matt Holliday singled sharply to right center. Berkman measured things perfectly and put a slow grounder to right perfectly between the first and second basemen to drive in one run. Colby Rasmus flew out to center and then Yadier Molina hit a perfect double play ball to the Atlanta first sacker. Unfortunately, Freddie Freeman closed his glove a split second too soon and the ball bounced off into foul territory to load the bases.
Schumaker singled up the middle to drive home Holliday and Berkman to pad the Cardinals lead at 4-0 and the bullpen held tight to make that score stand up.
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Mitchell Boggs, returning from a lower back injury, didn't seem entirely comfortable. But he pitched a scoreless frame, allowing a walk and getting around an error by third baseman Matt Carpenter who tried the ol' ole play at the hot corner without success.
Miguel Bautista, who has struggled with his command this spring also pitched an inning. He gave up two hits but no walks.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Schumaker was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, three runs batted in and a stolen base.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Schumaker's sixth inning two-run hit.
Lowlight: Ryan Theriot's 0-for-4 day dropped his spring average to .176.