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.