Fiers outpitches Waino, but Cards top Astros

March 12th, 2016
Aledmys Diaz collected the Cardinals' first hit, an RBI double in the sixth inning. (AP)Jeff Roberson/AP

JUPITER, Fla. -- Luis Cruz scored from third base on an Astros error in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting a split squad of Cardinals to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory on Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium.

With one out and the bases loaded, pinch-hitter Harrison Bader grounded into a forceout, with Greg Garcia retired at home. However, Bader reached first on catcher Alfredo Gonzalez's throwing error, allowing Cruz to score the winning run. Leading off the inning, Tommy Pham tied the game at 3 with his first spring homer.

Mike Fiers improved his case for a spot in the Astros' rotation, while non-roster invitee Danny Worth had a big day at the plate.

Fiers fired three perfect innings, recording four strikeouts. The right-hander threw 44 pitches, 32 for strikes, and has tossed five scoreless innings and allowed only two hits in two spring starts.

The Astros entered the game with 16 home runs -- third in the Majors -- and Worth added to that total wiith a blast over the left-field wall in the second off St. Louis ace righty Adam Wainwright for a 1-0 lead.  

"When you throw the ball in the middle of the plate, you're going to get punished for it," Wainwright said. "Not necessarily saying that he didn't earn that, because he made a good swing. He made a couple good swings on me."

Worth, who played all of last season for the D-backs' Triple-A team, struck again in the fourth when he drilled a double off the left-field wall to score Luis Valbuena, who walked with two outs and went to third on a single by Preston Tucker. Wainwright limited further damage when he struck out Jon Singleton for the third out.

Wainwright, making his second spring start, gave up two earned runs on three hits during his four-inning stint. He threw 52 pitches, 33 for strikes, and had two strikeouts with one walk.

Both teams turned in early defensive gems. Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick sprinted to his left and laid out to rob Cardinals leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter of an extra-base hit in the first. St. Louis first baseman Matt Adams showed his range by running down a pop fly by Roberto Pena in foul territory. Adams caught the ball over his right shoulder near the Cards' bullpen.

Up next for Astros: The Astros return home to Osceola County Stadium to face the Braves at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday, sending right-hander Doug Fister to the mound. This will be the third start for Fister, who has allowed one run in five innings. Most of the Astros' regulars, including Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer, are expected to return to the lineup.

Up next for the Cardinals: Right-hander Michael Wacha will be on the mound for his second spring start when the Cardinals travel to Viera, Fla.,to face the Nationals on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT. Wacha allowed a run but only two hits during his two-inning stint against the Twins in his first spring appearance Tuesday. Righty Max Scherzer is the scheduled starter for the Nationals.