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03/30/06 3:10 PM ET

Ponson struggles as Cards fall

No. 5 starter allows four runs in final spring tuneup

at Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Thursday, March 30

Cardinals at the plate: Juan Encarnacion picked up a pair of base hits and stole a base. So Taguchi singled in a run. Starting pitcher Sidney Ponson had a base hit.

Mets at the plate: Paul Lo Duca keyed the offense with three singles, a sacrifice fly and three RBIs. Xavier Nady reached base five times and scored twice, and Anderson Hernandez picked up three singles and drove in a run.

Cardinals on the mound: No. 5 starter Ponson endured a difficult game, walking four batters and allowing four runs on eight hits in four innings. Braden Looper struggled as well, giving up two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

Mets on the mound: In what were likely their final auditions, both Darren Oliver and Jose Lima were OK, but not great. Oliver permitted three base hits, but wasn't touched for a run in two innings. Lima surrendered a run over two frames.

Grapefruit League records: Mets 15-13-1; Cardinals 14-13-1.

Up next: The same two teams meet up again on Friday -- same bat-time, same bat-ballpark. It's Mark Mulder against Pedro Martinez in a 1:10 p.m. ET start at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.