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

Saturday, March 15, 2014 | 9:46 p.m. CDT

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — 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."

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 to 97 (mph) in the sixth and he was still going after the hitters. I liked what I saw."

His bat provided an extra spark.

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.


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