Cardinals 4, Nationals 2, 10 Innings

Saturday, March 24th 2007, 6:05 pm
By: News On 6

VIERA, Fla. (AP) _ Kip Wells is pitching for his third team in a year, and the Cardinals are happy to have him.

Wells turned in another strong effort Saturday in St. Louis' 4-2 victory in 10 innings over the Washington Nationals, allowing 2-runs and 5-hits in 5-innings. He struck out 6-and walked 2.

The 6'3, 205-pound right-hander has looked solid for the World Series champions coming off a foot injury.

``Today I was able to get into a rhythm from the 2nd inning on and pitch the way I would like to pitch,'' Wells said. ``For me, today was productive, so I'm happy with that.''

His ERA actually rose _ to 1.06 _ after the start. Coming into the game, he had not allowed an earned run in 12 innings of work this spring.

``He looked good; he threw the ball well,'' St. Louis catcher Gary Bennett said. ``He ran into a little trouble with his sinker very early, but he started locating his sinker and was aggressive in the zone.''

Wells started 2006 in Pittsburgh before being traded to Texas. He had season-ending surgery on his right foot in September, and finished last season a combined 2-5 with a 6.50 ERA. The 29-year-old is 57-74 with a 4.46 ERA in eight major league seasons.

Now it looks like he's headed for the No. 2 spot in the Cardinals' rotation, behind Chris Carpenter. Wells said his spot is all but set _ and manager Tony La Russa said there's ``a good chance'' an announcement will be made Sunday.

``I thought he was very good,'' La Russa said. ``They have a good lineup that's not easy to pitch against, and he made a lot of good pitches.''

Washington starter Shawn Hill allowed 2-runs _ both unearned _ in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out 3, walked 3-and solidified his status as the team's No. 2 starter behind John Patterson.

Nationals center fielder Nook Logan strained his right groin after hitting a single to right field in the bottom of the 9th. He said he didn't think the injury was serious.

The Cardinals scored 2-runs in the top of the 10th. Chris Duncan singled, went to 2nd on a wild pitch by Ryan Wagner and scored on a pinch-hit double by Nick Stavinoha. Bennett drove in Stavinoha with a sacrifice fly.

Cristian Guzman, Ryan Zimmerman and Jesus Flores had 2-hits apiece for Washington, which had won five straight games.