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Pujols hits first spring homer in Cards' win

Pujols hits first spring homer in Cards' win

Pujols hits first spring homer in Cards' win
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Albert Pujols made up for two games' worth of frustration against Phil Coke with a grand slam off Adam Wilk, capping a six-run fourth-inning that supported Chris Carpenter and sent the Cardinals to a 9-4 win over the Tigers Wednesday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Coke was facing St. Louis for the second time in six days, having faced the Cardinals in Jupiter last week, when he held Pujols to a strikeout and a double play. He seemed to pick up where he left off in their second meeting Wednesday, sending Pujols swinging and missing at a breaking ball in the dirt in a first-inning encounter.

Pujols came back up in the third after Colby Rasmus' solo homer and nearly did the same, but his drive to deep left wandered foul. Coke escaped with a groundout to third.

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Back-to-back one-out singles, a Miguel Cabrera error and consecutive two-out walks fueled the Cardinals' rally in the fourth, setting up Pujols. Rasmus' bases-loaded walk chased Coke from the game in favor of the sidearming left-hander Wilk, whose 2-2 pitch Pujols jumped for a drive to left and his first home run of the spring.

Coke gave up seven runs, three earned, on five hits in 3 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out three. Reliever Daniel Schlereth issued four consecutive walks, the last of them to Pujols, to tack on another Cardinals run in the sixth.

"That was an ugly game for us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We made a lot of mistakes today. Chalk it up and move on."

Carpenter was scheduled to face the Tigers last Friday but was scratched as a precaution for a strained left hamstring. His first start since March 1 went relatively smooth after Clete Thomas' two-out bloop single drove in Brennan Boesch and Cabrera in the opening frame. He allowed six hits over four-plus innings, leaving after Austin Jackson's double off the center-field fence leading off the fifth. Cabrera eventually drove Jackson in with a ground-rule double to straightaway center, one of two doubles he hit on the day.

Up next for Tigers (13-9): The most important homestand of the spring wraps up Thursday with a preview of the Tigers' biggest rivalry of the regular season. Tiger-killer Carl Pavano and the Twins make the trip up from Fort Myers for a 1:05 p.m. ET clash at Joker Marchant Stadium. Brad Penny will make the start for Detroit, which will also put left-hander Charlie Furbush and right-handers Enrique Gonzalez and Brayan Villarreal on the mound in relief.

Up next for the Cardinals (10-7-1): Lance Berkman will return to the outfield for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks on St. Patrick's Day when the Cardinals face the Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT. Berkman has been limited to designated-hitter duty since the first day of the Grapefruit League season, Feb. 28, as the result of soreness in his left elbow. However, the pain has dissipated, and he is expected to play right field. Jake Westbrook will start for the Redbirds against Florida ace Josh Johnson

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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