JUPITER, Fla. -- Home runs by Yadier Molina and William Fowler lifted the Cardinals to a 3-0 win over the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on Sunday. The victory was the Cardinals' 18th of spring, the most the club has had in a Grapefruit League season since 2009.In his first
JUPITER, Fla. -- Home runs by Yadier Molina and William Fowler lifted the Cardinals to a 3-0 win over the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on Sunday. The victory was the Cardinals' 18th of spring, the most the club has had in a Grapefruit League season since 2009.
In his first plate appearance since helping Puerto Rico to a silver medal in the World Baseball Classic, Molina blasted an 0-2 pitch from Wei-Yin Chen over the wall in left. Fowler followed with his first spring home run in the third. Fowler and Molina each finished with multi-hit games.
"He looked great," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Molina. "Just kind of what we knew, [that] when he got back, he would be ready. He looks ready all the way around."
Both of Fowler's hits, including the home run, came off Chen, who has now allowed six solo homers in five Grapefruit League starts. Incidentally, those are the only earned runs he has allowed all spring. Chen, who will open the season as the Marlins' No. 4 starter, finished his five-inning outing on Sunday with a pitch count of 83 (58 strikes).
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"I know he gave up two solos the last time, and today the same thing," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Chen. "If we score anything at all, we're in the game. For me, I like the way he's throwing the ball."
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The closest the Marlins came to scoring a run was in the fourth inning, when Giancarlo Stanton got his first hit since returning from the Classic, smacking a two-out double to deep center field that put Justin Bour on third. Derek Dietrich was unable to bring him home, as he struck out to end the Marlins' half of the frame.
Mike Leake became the first Cardinals starter to complete six innings this spring as he posted another efficient performance. Leake surrendered seven hits, but was helped by three double plays turned behind him. Leake also picked off one baserunner.
Leake, who will start the Cardinals' exhibition game in Springfield, Mo., on Friday, threw 74 pitches (50 strikes) and lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 3.81.
"I'm pretty happy with this spring," Leake said. "It could possibly be the most productive spring I've had. Have to give it time. Progress being made. Getting some health back in me. Trying to get stronger."
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Marlins Up Next:Tom Koehler, already announced as the No. 3 starter, will face the Mets at 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday, in a game available on Gameday Audio. New York counters with right-hander Zack Wheeler. Christian Yelich, given the day off on Sunday, is expected to return to the lineup. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, scratched Sunday due to a sore back, should also be available.
Cardinals Up Next:Carlos Martinez's final start before his Opening Night assignment will come on Monday, when the Cardinals face the Astros in a 5:05 p.m. CT game at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, in a game available on MLB.TV. Third baseman Jhonny Peralta, who bruised his left knee with a foul ball on Saturday, is expected back in the lineup.
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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.