Alvarez finishes spring strong as Marlins defeat Cardinals
By Jenifer Langosch and Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. -- Ichiro Suzuki's two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth inning broke a 2-2 tie and helped the Miami Marlins pick up a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday at Roger Dean Stadium.
Both team's Opening Day starters were on the mound, and each turned in strong performances. Henderson Alvarez went six innings, allowing one run on six hits, while boosting his pitch count up to 85.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright allowed a couple of early runs, but was able to minimize damage, limiting Miami to two runs, one earned, on eight hits. He was assisted by three double plays, and his afternoon ended after allowing a two-out single to Suzuki in the top of the seventh.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Confidence Booster: Kolten Wong snapped an 0-for-13 skid with his first multi-hit game of the spring. Wong, who entered the game with five hits in 36 Grapefruit League at-bats, singled in his two at-bats against Alvarez. Wong's second hit plated the Cardinals' first run of the game.
"That was a nice short stroke, not trying to do too much," manager Mike Matheny said. " He kind of slowed down today. He took what they were giving him. He can be that kind of player."
On the move: Dee Gordon didn't need to steal a bag to make an impact with his legs in the first inning. Just being in motion did the trick. Gordon singled to lead off the first, and when he was going, Christian Yelich bounced to second for an out. It could have been a double play if Gordon wasn't going. Giancarlo Stanton followed with an RBI single.
Final tune-up: In what was his final start before an expected Opening Day assignment, Wainwright threw 93 pitches over 6 ⅔ innings. The Marlins did knock him around for two runs (one earned) on eight hits, and it took Wainwright until the sixth to post a clean inning. He finished his third spring start by retiring six of the final seven batters he faced.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Marcell Ozuna's triple to lead off the fourth inning was Miami's 10th three-base hit as a team this spring. Jordany Valdespin, who will open the season at Triple-A New Orleans, actually is the Spring Training leader of any player with four triples. As a team, the Marlins have nearly as many triples as homers (14).
Pete Kozma, who has learned that he will open the season on the Cardinals' 25-man roster, entered the day ranked first on the club with 18 hits and five multi-hit games. His .429 spring average also ranked second in the National League. Kozma padded his spring stats with a fifth-inning double that led to the team's first run. He later singled.
"Henderson was good today. He was very efficient. He got a lot of ground balls. Threw strikes. Got a nice bunt down. He did exactly what you want to see out of a pitcher in his last start of Spring Training. He got to about  pitches. He gave us a chance to win that game. You could tell, he had that different look, that different adrenaline out there today, like he was pitching for Opening Day." -- Miami manager Mike Redmond on Alvarez's six-inning outing.
"I gave him a standing ovation. … It's a free hit. I talked to him today again in the outfield about how for me how hard hits were to come by. I think I went months without one. And if they're going to throw a free one out there, you're crazy not to take it." -- Matheny on Matt Adams executing a bunt single for the first time this spring.
Marlins right-hander Aaron Crow has been dealing with a sore right elbow, which is getting examined. Crow likely will open the season on the disabled list.
For the first time since learning he had been named the team's fifth starter, Carlos Martinez will take the mound in St. Louis' 12:10 p.m. CT road game against the Mets on Wednesday, which you can watch live on MLB.TV. This will be the final spring appearance for Martinez before he faces the Reds in the Cardinals' fifth game of the season. The Cardinals are 1-3 against the Mets in Grapefruit League play.
The Marlins wrap up their Grapefruit League schedule on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m ET against the Nationals, which you can listen to live on Gameday Audio. Jarred Cosart, who missed a start to deal with a blister on his right middle finger, is scheduled to make his final start. Due to the blister, Cosart is sliding into the fifth spot in the rotation. Washington is going with Jordan Zimmermann, who no-hit the Marlins in the 2014 season finale.