Panda's blast helps back Kelly's strong effort

Panda's blast helps back Kelly's strong effort

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Pablo Sandoval drilled a two-run homer and Joe Kelly fired 4 2/3 strong innings to lead the Red Sox to an 3-1, rain-shortened victory over the Cardinals on Saturday at JetBlue Park.

"I thought Joe was outstanding in a number of ways. One, he was powerful and seemed to gain some strength and rhythm as the game went along," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Four different types of pitches for strikes. He had a number of things working for him today, and he was able to get back into some counts with the changeup or a breaking ball."

Sandoval's blast to center came in the fourth against righty Michael Wacha. Mookie Betts ripped his second homer in as many days in the fifth, also against Wacha.

Sandoval's two-run homer

"[Sandoval is] a guy that can hit so many different types of pitches," said Farrell. "He hits a ball out of the ballpark that's a changeup down and off the plate. It's impressive what he's capable of doing in those situations. A couple of hard-hit balls today. He's certainly very capable of that."

Kelly (1.38 ERA in four Grapefruit League starts) gave the Red Sox the type of strong start they've lacked as of late -- giving up five hits and a run, while walking one and striking out five.

Wacha went four-plus innings, giving up seven hits and three runs. He walked none and struck out three. Carlos Peguero's solo home run in the fourth accounted for St. Louis' scoring.

Wacha strikes out Betts

"We've had all kinds of crazy conditions here," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "That happens through Spring Training. But I thought [Wacha's] stuff looked good. Great first-pitch breaking ball. His changeup was sharp. The fastball was good."

Players left the field prior to the sixth, when the weather took a turn for the worse, before the game was eventually called after a 30-minute delay.

Up next

Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia is among the regulars -- including Xander Bogaerts and Rusney Castillo -- who will make the trip to Port St. Lucie for Sunday's 1:05 p.m. ET game vs. the Mets on MLB.TV. A bullpen committee is scheduled to handle the pitching duties.

Cardinals: Right-hander Mike Leake receives the start for St. Louis on Sunday against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. He has allowed no runs and three hits with eight strikeouts over six innings this spring.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.