Hairston shows pop for Mets in loss to Cards

Hairston shows pop for Mets in loss to Cards

Hairston shows pop for Mets in loss to Cards
JUPITER, Fla. -- Allen Craig's mammoth two-run homer sent the Cardinals to a 3-1 win over the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium on Sunday in the last of six Grapefruit League meetings between the two clubs this year.

With pitcher Kyle McClellan on first base and two outs in the third inning, Craig launched a shot deep over the left field wall. The ball bounced off the terrace of the Marlins' complex, located well behind the outfield fence.

That made a winner of McClellan, who appeared to have some trouble locating his pitches at times but still turned in six strong innings. The right-hander, who has won the final job in the Cardinals' starting rotation, allowed a run on three hits over six innings. He struck out five and issued two walks.

The only run against McClellan came off the bat of Scott Hairston, who hit a massive homer of his own in the first inning to give New York an early lead. Hairston's ball also hit off the Marlins' complex.

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Mets starter Jonathon Niese was touched for three runs on four hits over five innings. Niese struck out three Cardinals, walking one.

Up next for the Mets: Three Grapefruit League games remain for the Mets, who plan to start their Opening Day lineup in each one of them. Whether or not that starting eight will include Carlos Beltran remains to be seen, but at least seven healthy regulars will be in the lineup Monday when the Mets host the Marlins in a 1:10 p.m. ET game at Digital Domain Park, available on MLB.TV. The only other absence will be R.A. Dickey, who is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game. Right-hander Boof Bonser will start in his place.

Up next for the Cardinals: It's almost certainly the last day in Florida for the Cardinals' A-listers when they take on the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on Monday afternoon, with the game broadcast on Gameday Audio. Jake Westbrook starts for the Redbirds, who will head north for an exhibition game in Springfield, Mo., on Tuesday. Westbrook has been somewhat hittable this spring, but has only walked two batters in 20 innings. He's coming off his best effort of the Grapefruit League campaign, 5 1/3 solid innings against the Mets on Wednesday.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.