PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Kolten Wong wouldn’t mind playing the New York Mets every day.
Wong hit a two-run homer for the second straight day, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Mets 6-4 Wednesday.
“I’m just starting to feel a lot more comfortable at the plate,” he said. “Timing is definitely coming to me a lot better. I’m just putting bat to ball and getting the results. I’m not a power guy, but I know I can run into a couple. That’s definitely not my intention (to hit home runs), but if I do it, great. As long as I help the team win, that’s all that matters.”
Wong, a former University of Hawaii and Big Island prep standout, went 2 for 4 Wednesday and is 7 for 15 with two home runs and six RBIs in four games against the Mets this spring training. He is 0 for 9 with two walks in his other five exhibition games.
“He had a nice day,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He had some good plays defensively, too. He’s finding his rhythm.”
Wong was pressing after starting spring training 0 for 10, but a three-hit game against the Mets on March 7 helped him settle down.
“That was really big,” Wong said. “That kind of allowed me to relax and start playing the game. Just telling myself to enjoy the game every day and have fun out there has really helped me a lot become more comfortable at the plate.”
Cardinals outfield prospect Stephen Piscotty went 2 for 3 with a double, triple, RBI and two runs. Juan Lagares had a two-run single for the Mets.
Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez, competing to be in the club’s rotation, allowed two hits in four scoreless innings and struck out three.
“He’s had a nice spring,” Matheny said. “He’s throwing the ball very well/ His secondary pitches and, obviously, his fastball can be tough to handle. He’s done what we think he can do. We think he has a very good approach to what he’s trying to accomplish and he’s had great execution.”
John Lannan, a non-roster invitee competing to be New York’s fifth starter, gave up two runs — both unearned — and three hits in four innings. He struck out five and walked none.
Mets manager Terry Collins said it’s possible Lannan could make the team as a reliever.
“The possibility of it has been brought up to me, just in conversation,” the pitcher said, “but right now I started today and I’m going to act as if I’m starting five days from now until I’m told otherwise.”
FINALLY A WIN
It’s just spring training, but Matheny was happy to stop a six-game winless skid.
“No question about it,” Matheny said. “I was getting tired of not being able to shake hands at the end of the day.”
Braves (ss) 3
JUPITER, Fla. — Evan Gattis hit his first homer of spring training, a fourth-inning solo drive Wednesday as an Atlanta Braves’ split squad beat the Miami Marlins 3-1.
Gattis batted .368 with six homers during spring training last year — a fast start he attributed to playing winter ball. He skipped winter ball this offseason.
Now Gattis feels like he’s starting to find his groove. He went 1 for 3 and raised his average to .226.
“That’s what he can do for us swing the bat and put one in the seats real quick,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Henderson Alvarez allowed one run and five hits in 3 2-3 innings, giving up the home run on a sinker. In his first start of spring training, Alvarez retired nine straight batters against St. Louis on Friday. That was his first game action since pitching a no-hitter on the final day last season.
B.J. Upton’s hit was the first off Alvarez since Cameron Rupp’s seventh-inning single for Philadelphia on Sept. 24.
In his second appearance for the Marlins, Carlos Marmol allowed three hits in 1 1-3 scoreless innings. He induced an inning-ending, double-play grounder from Jordan Schafer in the fifth after Ramiro Pena reached on an error by second baseman Derek Dietrich.
Nationals (ss) 9
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Jason Castro hit a two-run homer and an RBI double, leading the Houston Astros to a 10-9 victory over a Washington Nationals split-squad Wednesday.
Castro connected off Nationals starter Tanner Roark for his second home run of spring training.
Will Rhymes had three hits and scored twice for the Nationals, and Mike Fontenot drove in three runs.
Houston starter Jerome Williams gave up six hits and four unearned runs in 3 2-3 innings.
In their first game using instant replay, the Nationals came out on the losing end of two challenges.
Tigers 7, Yankees 7 (10 inn.)
TAMPA, Fla. — Hiroki Kuroda gave up six runs and 10 hits over 3 2-3 innings Wednesday as the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers played to a 7-7 tie in 10 innings.
Nick Castellanos drove in two runs with a double during Detroit’s four-run, six-hit first inning against Kuroda. Trevor Crowe had a two-run double during the third.
“I think the velocity is pretty good,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “It’s a matter of small changes mechanically. I need to make adjustments, especially on my slider. I had a hard time finding good pitches, so that’s what led to a bad result.”
Kuroda also faced the Tigers last Friday, allowing one hit, walking one and striking out five over 2 2-3 scoreless innings.
Anibal Sanchez allowed one run, three hits and struck out three in four innings for Detroit. The right-hander retired his first six batters before Francisco Cervelli hit a third-inning solo homer.
Sanchez also pitched against the Yankees last Friday, allowing two runs and four hits, including a long two-run homer to Carlos Beltran, in three innings.
“He did a nice job, same as last time,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “Looked like he had a little extra zip on his fastball.”
Pirates 8, Twins 4
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pedro Alvarez and Travis Ishikawa hit long home runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to an 8-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.
Alvarez and Ishikawa, both left-handed hitters, took advantage of a stiff wind blowing out to right field at Hammond Stadium. Alvarez, the Pirates’ third baseman, connected off former Pittsburgh teammate Kevin Correia.
“He’s a buddy of mine, and I talked to him before the game,” Correia said. “The wind was blowing out to right pretty good. I’m like, ‘You going to try to hit one?’ He was like, ‘No way.” And sure enough, he got it.”
It was the second home run of the spring for Alvarez, who tied Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt for the National League lead last season with 36.
Ishikawa’s homer came off Twins right-hander Vance Worley in the sixth. The two-run shot landed halfway up the batter’s eye in center field.
Phillies 6, Orioles 5
SARASOTA, Fla. — The Philadelphia Phillies scored four runs in two innings off Ubaldo Jimenez and beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 Wednesday for their third win in 15 spring training games.
A.J. Burnett took a three-hitter into the fifth inning for Philadelphia but was pulled after giving up a leadoff walk and two-run homer to Nolan Reimold. The 37-year-old Burnett was 0-2 with a 12.60 ERA in his first two starts.
Burnett had a 3-0 lead before throwing his first pitch. Domonic Brown hit a two-out, three-run triple in the first, and Ben Revere and Freddy Galvis hit successive triples in the second to make it 4-0.
Jimenez was making his second appearance with Baltimore since signing a $50 million, four-year contract last month. In his first outing, the right-hander struck out three in two perfect innings against Philadelphia.
In this one, Jimenez allowed four hits and walked three with no strikeouts.
Burnett also experienced a reversal of fortune. In his previous start, against the Orioles, the right-hander yielded six runs and seven hits in three innings.
Indians 12, Padres 7
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Carlos Santana hit a two-run home run off Tyson Ross, enhancing his chance of opening the season as the Indians’ starting third baseman and helping Cleveland beat San Diego 12-7.
Santana is moving from catcher to third base where he is competing with Lonnie Chisenhall for the starting spot. He robbed Chris Denorfia of an extra-base hit with a leaping stab behind the base.
Xavier Nady, who is trying to win a job as the backup to Yonder Alonso at first base, doubled and scored in the fourth inning and tied the game at 4 with a home run off Marc Rzepczynski in the sixth.
Giants 4, White Sox 3
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tim Lincecum pitched 4 1-3 effective innings, and the Giants rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Lincecum walked a batter and struck out three. Chicago’s first two runs came in the fifth inning, and the White Sox took a 3-2 lead in the seventh.
The Giants won it with one out in the ninth. Hector Sanchez led off with a single. Juan Perez ran for him and scored on an opposite-field double to left by Nick Noonan. Brandon Hicks sacrificed Noonan to third and Joaquin Arias brought home the win with a hit to right-center.