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Cards take Astros in Rare Nine Inning Spring Training Game, 8-5

Meltdown by late inning relievers gives Birds the win.

MLB: Houston Astros at St. Louis Cardinals Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

After the Astros staff took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, the back end of the Astros bullpen surrendered eight runs in innings six through eight. A ninth inning rally by the Stros fell short, giving the Cards the 8-5 win.

Starter Kent Emmanuel opened with two perfect innings. In the third inning ostensible opening day closer Ryan Pressly saw his first Spring action, striking out the side.

Last year’s surprise set-up man, lefty Brooks Raley, faced four right-handers in the fifth, allowing only a walk. In the sixth, the Cardinals scored their first run, unearned, after two throwing errors by Grae Kessinger, playing out of position at second base.

In the seventh inning Johanse Torres allowed four runs on an error, a walk, a single, and a two run homer by Tyler O’Neill.

The Cards completed their scoring off Riley Ferrell with three in the eighth. Ferrell allowed four walks and a double before the Astros implemented the 20-pitch mercy rule.

The Astros again failed to break-out offensively, managing only four hits in the nine-inning game. They scored in the first on a sac fly by Michael Brantley which scored Jose Altuve, who tripled ahead of Brantley.

They scored their second run in the fifth on an Abraham Toro double scoring Catcher Garrett Stubbs. The Astros completed their scoring in the ninth with three runs on four walks and a single by Taylor Jones.

Astros opening-day starters were two for eleven and as a team they left 15 runners on base.

On the bright side, possible back end lefty starter Kent Emanuel was effective against a tough Cardinals lineup, and key opening day bullpen pieces, Raley and Pressly, also looked sharp.

Tomorrow the Astros are off, but send Lance McCullers to the mound against the Nats on Tuesday at 5:05 CST.

Box score HERE.