JUPITER, Fla. -- Brad Penny had enough of his repertoire working to turn in a solid spring start Saturday.
The right-hander threw six strong innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Marlins."My breaking ball wasn't as sharp today as I would have liked it, but my splitty was there again. That's huge for me," Penny said. "If I get a guy on third and I have two strikes, I know I can go to that pitch and be really confident."Penny, projected to be the Cardinals' No. 3 starter, allowed one run and five hits while lowering his spring ERA to 6.10.He had a scary moment in the sixth, when Hanley Ramirez's hard groundout struck him on the inside of his left thigh. He was examined on the mound by trainers and left after retiring the next two batters."Hit me in the muscle, good spot again," Penny said. "If it had been a knee, it might have been a problem."Ramirez, who had two hits and drove in a run, received a special gift from team owner Jeffrey Loria before the game -- a diamond-studded "342" pendant for winning the National League batting title last year."It's a memento for Hanley to celebrate his great achievement and I hope he keeps it going," Loria said.St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols, who rested Friday, struck out twice. Manager Tony La Russa plans to use the NL MVP on Sunday and Monday before giving him a day off Tuesday.Clay Hensley pitched six innings for Florida, yielding three runs, one earned, and three hits. He dropped his spring ERA to 0.55 in 16 1/3 innings, making a strong case for a rotation spot."I thought he did outstanding," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's getting closer to being on the team."
Marlins RHP Josh Johnson, who was scratched from his scheduled start on Friday because of the flu, threw on flat ground Saturday morning. He's scheduled to throw off the mound Sunday. If that goes well, he should make his next start on Wednesday, which would allow him to start the season opener April 5 in New York.