Cardinals 9, Rays 7
A shaky spring training outing didn't faze Scott Kazmir. Although Tampa Bay's All-Star left-hander gave up a three-run homer to Ryan Ludwick and a solo shot to Rick Ankiel during Thursday's 9-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, he didn't view his latest start as a setback. The 25-year-old said he was affected by a stomach virus and was satisfied to get in four innings, even though the Cardinals got to him for five runs and eight hits. "It felt like every pitch I threw, I had to take a step back and kind of catch my breath," Kazmir said. "It was not a good feeling out there, but I still got my work in." Kazmir, who walked one and struck out two, didn't consider delaying his third start of spring training. "I just felt like I'd be way behind if I did scratch a start. I felt good enough to still get out there," he said. "I'm not worried about the numbers in spring training. You look at my past history, and my numbers in spring training are not too hot. It's not like I'm trying to win any trophy. I'm just going out there trying to get work in." St. Louis starter Joel Pineiro allowed two runs and six hits in four innings. Hard-throwing Jason Motte, a candidate to be the Cardinals' closer, retired four of five batters in the eighth and ninth innings for his third save. Meanwhile, former Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen was sharp in his second appearance for Tampa Bay, which signed him to a minor league deal last month. St. Louis released Isringhausen after last season, when injuries limited him to 42 appearances. The right-hander, whose 293 career saves are the sixth highest among active players, yielded a fifth-inning double to Allen Craig and struck out Joe Mather to finish a scoreless inning. "I thought he did really a nice job," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's really shown his arm strength." Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said before the game that a healthy Isringhausen can help the Rays. "Whenever he's struggled it's been health-related," La Russa said, adding that the 36-year-old could fill a variety of roles in the bullpen. "Anybody who's gotten outs in the ninth inning," LaRussa said, "can get outs at any point in the game." Injured Rays outfielder B.J. Upton took another important step in rehab from offseason shoulder surgery, getting three at-bats as the designated hitter in a Triple-A minor league game. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, but felt the most significant development of the day was he swung and missed a pitch - and felt fine. "That was my biggest concern, swinging and missing. I took my normal swing and didn't feel anything," Upton said. "It's another roadblock we passed. I didn't know how it was going to feel. It's good to get it out of the way." Upton played most of last season with an injured left (non-throwing) shoulder that affected his production at the plate. He had surgery shortly after the World Series and hopes to play in a major league exhibition in the next two weeks. The Rays have said they won't rush his return, even if that means him beginning the regular season on the disabled list. "We talk about being patient with it," Maddon said, "and we want to continue to do that." Upton conceded it has been difficult to not be able to participate fully in spring training. "These guys are out there having fun, and I'm in the training room or out back working out. I really want to be with my teammates," he said. "If you've never been in this situation, you don't know what it's going to be like. It's definitely been a little tougher for me watching these guys come in and get ready for a game and my day is pretty much over. But other than that, I'm just happy I'm finally getting back out there."