Piscotty's 2-HR day leads Cards past Yanks

Piscotty's 2-HR day leads Cards past Yanks

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Cardinals slugged four home runs off Michael Pineda, two by Stephen Piscotty, as they wrapped up their Spring Training camp with a 9-1 victory over the Yankees on Thursday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Piscotty homered in the second and fourth innings off Pineda, who worked five frames in his final tuneup before the regular season. Brandon Moss and Piscotty went back-to-back in the fourth inning, and Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a three-run shot in the fifth.

Hazelbaker's three-run homer

Piscotty entered the game with one extra-base hit in 49 spring at-bats.

"Especially this last week of spring has felt like it's really coming together and I'm really getting dialed in," Piscotty said. "I never doubted that it wasn't there. It was a matter of fine-tuning the swing and going through all that stuff."

Pineda permitted six runs on seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He is scheduled to start the Yankees' second game of the season on Wednesday against the Astros in New York. He threw 87 pitches, 58 for strikes, and said he thought the homers were wind-aided.

"I tried to make my good pitches on the mound," Pineda said. "I threw the ball good and [got a] couple pop flies. I don't think it's even a homer, but it's a homer."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi agreed, saying, "I think he threw the ball better than his numbers indicated. I'm not so sure how many of those are home runs if the wind's not blowing."

Girardi on the end of Spring

Mike Leake started for St. Louis and worked four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Leake threw 33 of 39 pitches for strikes.

"That's ideal," Leake said afterward. "I think those games are usually the games you can kind of put on the shelf as you did what you tried to do every time. When you're pumping strikes and attacking guys, that's the first motto of the pitcher. Today, it translated."

It was the fifth and final Grapefruit League start for Leake, who leads the Cardinals' staff with 24 strikeouts in 20 innings and has walked just two batters in exhibition play.

After a stretch in which they won one of 13 games, the Cardinals finished Grapefruit League play with three consecutive victories. They outscored their opponents, 15-2, in those wins.

Cardinals' five homer afternoon

"There were just a lot of guys with a positive feel as we head out," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We're right where we want to be right now. Wish we could play in Pittsburgh tomorrow."

Up next for the Cardinals: With a 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Pirates, the Cardinals will open up the 2016 Major League season on Sunday. Adam Wainwright draws the Opening Day start, the fifth of his career and fourth in a row. He'll be opposed by Pittsburgh left-hander Francisco Liriano.

Up next for the Yankees: Nathan Eovaldi will make his fourth spring start on Friday as the Yankees visit Marlins Park for the first of two exhibitions in Miami. Jose Fernandez gets the ball for the Marlins in the 7:10 p.m. ET contest. The Yankees will also play an afternoon exhibition against Miami on Saturday before flying home to open the regular season on Monday, facing the Astros at 1:05 p.m.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.