Braves-Cards seesaw battle ends in draw

March 16th, 2016
The Braves' Ozzie Albies tags out the Cards' Stephen Piscotty on a steal attempt in the third. (AP)John Raoux/AP

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In a back-and-forth matchup, pinch-hitter Carlos Peguero's one-out solo homer in the top of the ninth inning knotted the score as the Cardinals and Braves played to an 8-8 tie Wednesday at Champion Stadium.

Top prospects Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson recorded singles during Atlanta's four-run eighth that was highlighted by Jace Peterson's go-ahead, two-run double off Matt Bowman. Peterson's opposite-field double, which landed near the foul line in shallow left field and gave the Braves an 8-7 lead, was just his fourth hit in 26 at-bats.

The Braves had also gained a brief lead when Hector Olivera and Ryan Lavarnway recorded doubles off Jaime Garcia during a four-run fourth. But the Cardinals reclaimed the lead with a three-run sixth against Ian Krol and Jose Ramirez.

After the Cards loaded the bases against Krol with just one out in the sixth, the Braves brought Ramirez in with the hope that he would do what he did in the same situation against the Astros on Sunday, when he promptly struck out Jose Altuve and George Springer. But the hard-throwing right-handed reliever instead surrendered Jonathan Rodriguez's two-run single and Dean Anna's RBI single before recording an out.

Garcia surrendered one hit and faced one more than the minimum through the first three innings, but the veteran left-hander's good fortunes expired as he retired just two of the first seven batters he faced in the fourth. Gordon Beckham contributed an RBI single between the doubles recorded by Lavarnway and Olivera, who entered Wednesday with a Major League-high 14 Spring Training hits.

Garcia said he worked through some timing issues with his delivery early in the outing, but got himself into a good place by the end.

"I had three really good innings and then that last one just got away a little bit," Garcia said. "But I felt good. I'm ready to go."

Braves starter Jhoulys Chacin's bid for a rotation spot took a hit as he allowed eight hits and three earned runs over three innings.

To Fredi, everyone's a rotation candidate

Randal Grichuk, who is batting .524 (11-for-24), notched a single that led to a first-inning run and added a third-inning double that put him in position to score on the first of Jedd Gyorko's two RBI singles.

Up next for the Cardinals: The Cardinals will play the first of two straight games against the Tigers on Thursday, when they travel to Lakeland, Fla., for a 12:05 p.m. CT game. Carlos Martinez, who began spring under a modified throwing program, will make his second Grapefruit League start as he opposes Mike Pelfrey. Marco Gonzales, Seth Maness and Seung Hwan Oh are among those expected to pitch in relief.

Up next for the Braves:Williams Perez and Mike Foltynewicz will attempt to strengthen their bids for a rotation spot when Atlanta plays a pair split-squad games that begin at 1:05 p.m. ET on Thursday. Perez will take the mound against the Astros at Disney and Foltynewicz will make his Grapefruit League debut against the Nationals in Viera, Fla. Foltynewicz will be pitching for the first time since he was sidelined by a blood clot in September.