Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kelly Stays Steady; Cardinals 8, Diamondbacks 2; Rookie Continues to Impress with Shutout for Six Innings in What May Be Last Start before Garcia Returns

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kelly Stays Steady; Cardinals 8, Diamondbacks 2; Rookie Continues to Impress with Shutout for Six Innings in What May Be Last Start before Garcia Returns

Article excerpt

With no guarantees he'll make another start this season, Cardinals rookie Joe Kelly received some urging from manager Mike Matheny before Tuesday's game against Arizona. Matheny didn't want the young righty believing he was pitching to keep his role.

Treat it like any other start, Matheny said he suggested.

Kelly did him one better.

The rookie steered the Cardinals to an 8-2 victory at Busch Stadium with his best start since joining the rotation as a fill-in for lefty Jaime Garcia. In what could be his sendoff as a starter, Kelly pitched six scoreless innings before Arizona chased him from the game in the seventh with two runs. As Garcia made his final minor-league rehab start at the same time for Class AAA Memphis, Kelly matched a season-high in the majors with six strikeouts and for the second time this season collected an out in the seventh inning.

"I know that he can't all the way ignore it," Matheny said of an imminent change to the rotation. "I think he's doing a nice job of separating. He's a competitor. You can't teach that. ... This is a great test for him."

Matt Holliday's two-run homer and Jon Jay's solo bolt off Arizona starter Ian Kennedy backed Kelly (3-5) until Arizona unraveled late and the Cards added on. Two errors by Kennedy led to two runs in the seventh and pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter had a two-run double in the three-run eighth inning. Holliday, Jay, and Carpenter each finished with two RBIs and a run scored.

The win ignites what could be a defining home stand. The Cardinals play nine consecutive games at Busch, where they have won 18 of their previous 23. Arizona arrived as a trailer in the wild- card race and on the precipice of .500. Kelly knocked them into a 58- 58 record with what's made him a solid sub at starter and a dash of what makes him intriguing as a reliever.

The Cardinals have not publicly stated what they will do when Garcia returns from the disabled list, a move the team expects to make this weekend. Garcia completed five innings on 93 pitches and struck out eight Tuesday in Memphis. The fact Garcia's final rehab start lined up on the same night as Kelly's game is more than a coincidence.

Kelly, who was a closer in college, has entered uncharted territory with a career-high 141 innings this season. His power fastball could be a boost to the bullpen even as the move assures a reduced workload.

Matheny didn't want Kelly distracted by connecting the dots.

"He needs to focus on what he needs to do to give us a quality start," Matheny said, "and not think that this start is different."

Kelly agreed, saying: "That's too much pressure. I've learned to get rid of those outside sources and just worry about pitching. I used to think about stuff like that when I was in the minors. 'Hey, if I pitch well, I might get moved up.' I've learned that it's nonsense. …

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