Cardinals 8, Astros 8

Joe Kelly remembered his last game appearance, when there was a
lot more had stake.

Pitching for the first time since the NL championship series,
Kelly opened his bid for a spot in the St. Louis Cardinals’
starting rotation with two hitless innings in Friday’s 8-8 tie
against the Houston Astros.

”There were no people calling me names out there today,” Kelly
said. ”Warming up today in the bullpen, we had Cardinal fans down
there, cheering you on, instead of people using derogatory terms
and just screaming out hate and blasphemy towards you.”

Among three candidates to replace the injured Chris Carpenter in
the Cardinals’ rotation, Kelly walked one hitter in each inning.
He’s competing with Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal, and was the
last of the three to pitch in an exhibition game.

”For the past three days I’ve been reminded by everyone in the
clubhouse: `Are you ever going to pitch?”’ Kelly said. ”I think
it made me even more anxious to get out here. I’m one of the last
guys to even throw, but it was good to get out there.

”I’m not too happy about my walks. I felt maybe a tad rusty,
but I went out there and got my ground balls. That’s part of my
game and that’s what I try to do.”

Kelly, a 24-year-old right-hander, was 5-7 with a 3.53 in 16
starts and eight relief appearances as a rookie last year.

”Everyone, of course, wants to start in the big leagues,” he
said. ”That’s ultimately what my goal is to do, so I guess that’s
my preference. I’m happy I’m even given a chance to get that
role.”

Adron Chambers, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma had two hits and
drove in two runs each for the Cardinals, who have won five
straight.

Chris Carter homered for the Astros, a fifth-inning drive off
closer Jason Motte. Brandon Barnes and Brandon Lair also homered
for Houston.

”I’m excited to have this opportunity here, either to play
first base or outfield or DH, whatever I can do to just play every
day,” said Carter, who hit 16 home runs in 67 games for Oakland
last season.

Carter is among at least eight Astros outfielders competing for
starting spots.

”That’s why we’re giving everybody an equal number of
at-bats,” manager Bo Porter said. ”We want to give everybody an
opportunity throughout the first three weeks.”

Houston starter Bud Norris struck out one and walked one in
three innings, allowing Descalso’s two-run single in the
second.

With Houston trailing by two runs in the ninth, Brandon Laird
homered off Victor Marte leading off, his second home run in two
days. Rene Garcia singled with one out and, after a throwing error
by shortstop Ryan Jackson, pinch-runner Delino DeShields scored on
Marte’s wild pitch.

NOTES: Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was not with the team
because he has flulike symptoms. … Jose Veras, Houston’s likely
closer, pitched a 1-2-3 fourth with a pair of called strikeouts in
his final appearance before joining the Dominican Republic for the
World Baseball Classic.