Joe Kelly stars in Cardinals' 6-2 win over Braves

Joe Kelly stars in Cardinals' 6-2 win over Braves

Credit: Getty Images

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - MARCH 15: Joe Kelly #58 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws a pitch prior to a game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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by JEFF BERLINICKE

AP

Posted on March 16, 2014 at 8:25 AM

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Joe Kelly pitched into the sixth inning and had three hits to help the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Saturday.

Kelly went 5 1-3 innings, allowing four hits and a run. He became the first pitcher to have three hits in a spring training game since Chris Volstad did it for the Marlins in 2010.

Kelly singled three times, drove in two runs and scored twice.

The right-hander made 37 appearances for the Cardinals last season, including 15 starts, and went 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA. He pitched into the postseason and said he feels like a permanent part of the staff heading into the season.

"I went deep into the game," Kelly said. "I had some quick outs and that should always be a goal for me. I saw the whole lineup."

The Braves, still reeling from the possibility of beginning the season without ailing pitchers Mike Minor,Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, started non-roster invitee Gus Schlosser, who allowed three runs, two earned, and four hits in four innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.

Schlosser was expected to work out of the bullpen this season, but will likely stretch his arm out in Triple-A at the start of the year as an insurance policy for the starting rotation.

Cardinals: Kelly's outing was the longest by a St. Louis pitcher all spring. "That was a great performance," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was trying to be a one-man show today. He was still throwing up to 95-97 (mph) in the sixth and he was still going after the hitters. I liked what I saw."

Braves: Schlosser was his own worst enemy while allowing three runs in the third inning. He misplayed a grounder that led to the first run and put two runners in scoring position. "I felt good," Schlosser said. "I had one bad inning, but overall I did my job. I just tried to show what I can do if given the chance. I didn't feel out of my comfort zone at all." Schlosser has made 55 starts in his minor league career but hasn't pitched in Triple-A yet.

Braves: Medlen and Beachy are expected to get checked out Monday by Dr. James Andrews to see if they will need second Tommy John surgeries. ... SS Andrelton Simmons missed the game with a sore knee. He is day to day.

Kelly said the Cardinals are stressing that their pitchers spend more time on hitting, and it paid off with his 3-for-3 day. "We were one of the worst-hitting teams in baseball last year when it came to pitchers," Kelly said. "We are trying to take shorter swings and just get the ball over the infield. It was pretty fun today. We're working on it because we were so close to being last in almost every category last year." Kelly has a career batting average of .152 in two seasons with St. Louis.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would be taking a long look at plenty of "insurance policies," including Schlosser, to pick up the slack for Atlanta's injured starting pitchers. In addition to Medlen and Beachy, Minor might miss the first couple weeks of the season. As for his rotation when the team goes north, Gonzalez said he has a lot of thinking to do. "I haven't decided whether to go with four starters at the start of the year or five," he said. "I just want to see what we have just in case.

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