JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - The St. Louis Cardinals got off to a terrific start thanks to Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter. Ryan Franklin just couldn't close it out.
Pujols homered twice and Carpenter pitched a spring-high six innings, but the Florida Marlins rallied for three runs off Franklin in the bottom of the ninth to beat St. Louis 6-5 on Saturday.
With the Marlins trailing 5-3, Greg Dobbs, in line to win a bench spot, led off the ninth with a double. Franklin retired the next two batters before giving up consecutive doubles to two minor leaguers who had been called up to help fill out the roster, Jeff Dominguez and Jorge Padilla.
Wes Helms, who will be Florida's top pinch-hitter this season, singled up the middle for the game-winning hit, improving the Marlins' record to 12-14 in Grapefruit League play.
``It always feels good to win a game, it doesn't matter if it means nothing or not,' said Helms, who is hitting .185 this spring (5 for 27). ``But actually it means something now. The last week of spring training, to me, you should be trying to get in game form. Now is the time we want to come through like that because it just rolls right into opening day.'
Pujols hit his second and third home runs of the spring in the fourth and fifth innings off right-hander Chris Volstad, both over the left-center fence on three-ball counts.
``Two fastballs in, fastball counts to a guy like Albert Pujols - don't try that at home,' said Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez, whose team has won six of its last seven.
Pujols last homered on March 16, a grand slam against the Tigers, also in a game Carpenter pitched. He is batting .296 with 14 RBIs, which is tied with Jon Jay for the Cardinals' lead this spring.
``I think it's about the right time right now. I'm right where I want to be,' Pujols said.
Carpenter, who finished the spring with a 5.19 ERA, allowed three runs and six hits, struck out three and didn't walk anyone. His next start is Thursday in the season opener against the Padres.
Volstad, the Marlins' No. 5 starter, allowed five runs (three earned) and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, his longest outing this spring. He will make one more exhibition start Thursday in a minor league game before his season debut April 6 against the Washington Nationals.
Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton went 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly. Stanton has 10 RBIs in the last three days, starting with seven on Thursday in his first Grapefruit League game. He had been out most of March with a right quadriceps strain.
The Marlins' starting outfield played five innings together for the first time this spring. Chris Coghlan made his first start in center since March 16 and went 1 for 2.
Coghlan was hit by a pitch in the left foot in the fifth inning. He stayed in the game but left after the Marlins batted that inning. Coghlan, who has been bothered by a sore throwing shoulder this spring, is expected to play Sunday.
Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez was shaken up after sliding into second base in the first inning. He was accidentally kicked in the neck by second baseman Skip Schumaker. Ramirez stayed in the game after being examined on the field by a trainer.
Ramirez made an errant throw in the fourth that led to two unearned runs. He leads the team with seven errors this spring.
NOTES: Josh Johnson will pitch for the Marlins in Jupiter on Sunday in a minor league game instead of in Viera against the Nationals. Adalberto Mendez will start in Viera. Johnson went 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA in five starts covering 20 innings this spring. His next start is Friday in Miami in the Marlins' season opener against the New York Mets.
The Associated Press News Service
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