Cardinals 5, Braves 4

Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller are roommates and best friends, and

come November they will serve as best man at each other’s wedding

just seven days a part.

These days, though, they are competing for the Cardinals’ fifth

starter spot. The loser will end up in the bullpen or back at

Triple-A Memphis.

Kelly allowed three hits and one run in four solid innings and

Miller allowed three runs in 2 2-3 innings Thursday in St. Louis’

5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.

With the Cardinals wanting the three remaining spring training

starts to go to the No. 5 starter, Thursday was likely the final

opportunity for the candidates to show why they deserve the


”Oh definitely, if he gets the fifth spot I’m not going to talk

to him anymore,” Miller said. ”I’m kidding. It’s not going to

change anything. I’ll be happy for him, but I’m sure if I got it

he’ll be just as happy for me.”

Kelly has allowed just five hits and two earned runs in eight

innings over three starts.

The former third-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2009 got

two double plays in his four innings and the only damage came on a

two-out single from Braves leadoff man Jordan Schafer in the third

that scored Jordan Parraz.

Miller allowed six hits and three runs but two of them scored

after he departed the game.

”Joe came out and I thought that was probably the best he’s

been this spring,” said manager Mike Matheny. ”Shelby threw the

ball pretty well, as well. It was a good day.

”Today wasn’t a drop dead, have to make a decision day, but we

just took in more information and gave them another opportunity to

go out there and I thought they both did the most with it,”

Matheny added.

Mike Minor allowed six hits and four runs in five innings for

the Braves and retired 12 of the first 14 hitters he faced. But he

tired in the fifth inning as the Cardinals batted around and scored

four runs on five hits off the lefty.

”We’ve got to get him through those innings to build up pitch

count and that kind of stuff,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.

”Other than that, he did a lot of good things. He helped himself

with a bunt, drove a guy in. He did a lot of good stuff.”

Young outfielder Jordan Parraz went 4 for 4 and had two runs

scored for the Braves, who tied it 4-all in the seventh inning

before Matt Adams’ two-out single put the Cardinals back in front

for good in the bottom of the eighth.

Kelly stepped into the big league rotation last summer when

Jaime Garcia went down with an injury and went 5-7 with a 3.53 ERA

in 24 appearances – 16 starts – after making his Major League debut

on June 10.

He became a valuable weapon in the Cardinals bullpen last

October, giving up just two earned runs and six hits in 7 2-3

innings but would seem to be headed back to the starting rotation

after another positive outing Thursday.

”We’ve messed around a couple times but no hatred towards

anybody,” Kelly said. ”We’re best friends. It is what it is.

We’re not trying to hide from each other or anything. We live

together, too. We converse with everything we do.

”Me and Shelby, we don’t ask anything. We just go out there and

pitch when we’re supposed to pitch,” he added. ”We both pitched

today and lined up on the same day. I don’t know (what happens)

from there honestly.”

Miller wasn’t promoted to the big leagues until September but

had a 1.32 ERA in six appearances and took a no-hitter into the

sixth inning in his first career start on the final day of the

regular season. He made two appearances in the NL championship


The right-hander got a late start this spring training due to a

small bout with shoulder soreness. He’s yielded six runs and ten

hits in 7 2-3 innings for a 7.04 ERA. But the right-hander was

pleased with how he pitched Thursday and with what he’s done to

show the Cardinals he can pitch at the big league level.

”I feel like I’ve been throwing well,” Miller said. ”I

definitely have been throwing better than probably what my numbers

look like. I feel good and I felt like my fastball is definitely a

lot better than it was last year but at the same time, Joe has been

throwing just as bit.

”It’s really not up to me. I feel like there’s always room

where I could have proved that I was more ready,” he said.

”There’s always something and we’re both working on things but at

the end of the day Mike’s going to do what’s best for the team and

whatever happens, happens.”

NOTES: Matt Holliday returned to the Cardinals lineup after

missing nearly a week with the flu. . Matheny said shortstop Rafael

Furcal’s Tommy John surgery went well Wednesday. The surgery was

performed by Dr. James Andrews. … Cardinals outfield prospect

Oscar Taveras went 2 for 4 and is hitting .302 this spring. . The

Braves optioned David Hale after Wednesday night’s game in