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Carpenter shuts down Mets to lead Cards to 2-1 win

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Albert Pujols and Brendan Ryan each hit solo homers to back Chris Carpenter, who allowed one run in six innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday.

Carpenter struck out seven and allowed two hits in his longest outing of the spring.

"Command of my fastball was better," said Carpenter, last year's runner-up in NL Cy Young voting. "My cutter still needs a little work, but it was alright. I made some pitches with it when I had to. My breaking ball was better; a little inconsistent, but better."

Carpenter held a Mets lineup mostly devoid of likely Opening Day starters hitless through four innings.

Trailing 2-0, Fernando Tatis broke up Carpenter's no-hitter with a leadoff single in the fifth inning. Frank Catalalanotto followed with a double, scoring Tatis.

Carpenter did not allow a hit the rest of the way.

"That's what you hope to see when you get deeper in the spring — better at-bats for the hitters, and better stuff and locations for the pitchers," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "It was a good day for him."

Like Carpenter, New York starter John Maine delivered his longest performance of the spring. He allowed two hits in five innings.

"John Maine competed today," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He had some life on his fastball, and I felt really good about that. Everybody did well. ... A 2-1 ballgame in Florida with the wind blowing out, hard infield, four hits, you have to be excited about that."

The Cardinals played without All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, who La Russa said could miss the remainder of spring training and even the start of the regular season with a right oblique injury. Molina left Wednesday's game after injuring the oblique sliding into second base.

"We're just going to be really patient and really optimistic," La Russa said prior to the game. "We've got our fingers crossed for the early part of the season."

La Russa added that he would be in favor of holding Molina out of the first few regular season games if that would better prepare him for the long run.

"We've got to get him well, however long it takes," La Russa said. "Err on the side of caution. It's not even a close call. I just hope he helps us with that by letting us know how he truly feels because he's going to feel the responsibility to be out there."

NOTES: The Cardinals scratched CF Colby Rasmus from Thursday's lineup. Rasmus was still sore after taking a spike to a knee while attempting to break up a double play on Wednesday. He said he expects to play Friday when St. Louis travels to Viera to face Washington.