Adron Chambers goes deep in Cards tie

4:00 PM, Mar 1, 2013   |    comments
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(KSDK Sports) -- The St. Louis Cardinals continued their week long scoring binge, but on this particulary day, the Astros were able to match them run for run.

But perhaps the headline Friday is not the prolific scoring, but rather another instance of a starter, and potential rotation member, right-hander Joe Kelly, tossing two scoreless innings to open the game.

The game marked Kelly's first start of the spring.  He threw two scoreless innings and walked a pair of batters and later told he felt good.   

"It was good to get out there," Kelly said. "I felt good. Arm felt great. Body felt great. I'm not too happy about my walks. I felt maybe just a tad bit rusty."

Adron Chambers belted a three-run shot, while Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso each plated a pair of runs for the Cardinals.

Brandon Laird led off the ninth with a home run and Delino DeShields Jr. scored the game-tying run on a wild pitch, as the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals played to an 8-8 tie on Friday in spring training action.

Chris Carter clubbed a two-run blast and Brandon Barnes added a solo shot for the Astros, who saw starter Bud Norris allow two runs on two hits and a walk over three full frames.

As for Kelly, he is battling for a spot not says he and Shelby Miller are best friends, but that doesn't mean he isn't going to try to beat him out for the fifth starter job at spring training.

The 24-year-old St. Louis Cardinals righthander said he was told at the end of the season to be prepared to battle for a start job and that's exactly what he plans to do.

Kelly and Miller, who were drafted at the same time, have been together since day one of the professional baseball careers. "We do pretty much everything together," Kelly said. "It's going to be a fun time, me against him. There's no hard feelings."

Kelly said he told himself coming in to this season that he "was going to win a job as a starter."

"I like that little bit of competition, because I've got that fire in my belly that makes me want to drive for that," he said.  Kelly, over his 24 major league games in 2012, showed the Cardinals that he can handle high pressure situations.

Between 16 regular season starts and eight bullpen appearances, Kelly struck out 75 batters and walked 36. While his 3.53 ERA is not the best on the team by any means, it should be remembered that the number reflects a pitcher who bounced between the rotation and the bullpen.

In the 2012 postseason, he showed a grit that numbers have a hard-time illustrating. In seven postseason appearances, Kelly surrendered two runs, both in the same outing. Over that stretch, he faced 34 batters and gave up only six hits.

Kelly said he learned a lot in 2012, but is ready to move forward.

"I don't put emphasis on what I did last year and I know what I have to do to be even better," he said. "I'm going to go out there and compete."

One of Kelly's biggest drawbacks in 2012 was heavy reliance on his sinker which he threw 52 percent of the time. While it is his anchor pitch, batters hit .294 off of the sinker.

His change-up, which he threw much more often against lefthanded batters (29 percent) than righthanders (7 percent), seems to be able to fool batters more consistently holding them to a .229 batting average against the offspeed pitch.

"I kind of got away from some of my off-speed pitches last year going from bullpen to starting," Kelly said. "This year I'm trying to get all four pitches working for me. I've got to throw all my off-speed stuff over the plates for strikes."

He said he knows what he's got to do and that's what he's moving toward.  Regardless, he's not pressuring himself to force it and said he's never really done that with baseball.

"I've never really put too much pressure on myself," Kelly said. "I think I put more pressure on myself in a golf match or playing video games."

He said he still treats baseball like he has all of his life - like a game. That's what he believes makes him tick and keeps him focused in high pressure situations.

"It's just baseball, I just have fun with it," Kelly said. "I have fun coming here every day and seeing these guys, hanging out with them. I go out there pitching, try to be better than the hitter and try to be better than everyone else. That's what I love about the whole entire game."

Kelly has some stiff competition for the fifth starter job. With the crew he has competing for the job, there is little doubt that whoever gets the job will have earned it outright.

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