Albert Pujols hit a grand slam in a six-run Cardinals fourth and Chris Carpenter made his first start since he pulled his left hamstring two weeks ago as St. Louis beat the Tigers 9-4 in Lakeland.
Carpenter struggled in the first inning, allowing two runs before settling down with three scoreless frames. Overall, he allowed six hits and a walk while striking out none. But the St. Louis ace reported no ill affects from the hamstring. And that's the important thing if he is going to be able to make his planned start on opening day.
Pujols was 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and five RBIs in the game. Colby Rasmus also helped fill up the scoreboard with two hits in three at bats with a walk, three runs scored and two RBIs as he raised his spring batting average to .308.
Rasmus was the only Cardinals hitter with more than one safety. Despite more than doubling up the Tigers in the runs department, Detroit outhit St. Louis 10-7.
Ryan Theriot was hitless in three at bats to fall to a .167 batting average. But he got on base with a pair of walks to set the table and he scored once. Lance Berkman was 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts as he worked on his lefty swing against southpaw pitching.
In the bullpen, Brian Tallet seems to have nailed down a job as a bullpen lefty. He pitched one scoreless inning Wednesday with a hit and a walk allowed. But he struck out two and lowered his spring ERA to 1.35.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Rasmus.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Pujols' grand slam.
Lowlight: Berkman stranded four runners on base and had a pair of bat throwing ugly strikouts. Sure, he was batting lefty against lefty pitching. But it didn't instill much confidence in his lefty swing to see the way he flailed at the ball.