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St. Louis Cardinals' Harrison Bader (48) bats in the March 9 game against the Houston Astros in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo)

JUPITER, Fla. • Michael Wacha dialed up his best outing of the spring on Thursday, blanking the New York Mets for five innings, scattering five hits. The Cardinals’ righthander did it expeditiously, throwing just 65 pitches, 41 of them strikes.

“I liked all our pitching,” said manager Mike Shildt, “and I really liked Michael Wacha. More of the same from what we’ve seen all spring. He picked up where he left off last year.”

Wacha was 8-2 before he suffered a strained oblique muscle that cost him the final 3 ½ months of the 2018 season.

Shildt ticked off the number of things Wacha had done well Thursday — such as using his changeup, curveball and two different levels of fastballs to all parts of the strike zone.

“Good pace,” Shildt added. “A lot to like.”

Dominic Leone turned in a fifth consecutive scoreless outing and Mike Mayers, after a scoreless inning, got out of a bases-loaded jam with a home-to-first double play in the eighth, an inning in which he allowed a run. John Brebbia also worked a scoreless frame.

But all it got the Cardinals was a 1-1 exhibition tie before a packed house of 7,022 at Roger Dean Stadium.

Jose Martinez tripled to left center to lead off the Cardinals’ seventh and, after the next two hitters were retired, Yairo Munoz doubled to left for the Cardinals’ first run.

Harrison Bader reached three times — on an infield chopper, a hit batsman and an outfield single. He stole second three times in succession, making him the first Cardinal to do that in a spring game in 25 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And he never scored.

But Shildt said, “He’s a five-tool player. He can beat you a lot of different ways.”

The Cardinals have scored just two runs in their last 30 innings over four games. 

• BOX SCORE: Cardinals 1, Mets 1


BADER LEADS OFF, FOWLER THIRD

The Cardinals, who are averaging under four runs a game this spring, are resting several regulars for Thursday’s exhibition with the New York Mets but the top four names in the lineup are familiar ones. 

Harrison Bader will hit first, Yadier Molina second, Dexter Fowler third and Jose Martinez fourth. Molina will catch and the other three will man the outfield.

Drew Robinson and Yairo Munoz, who both seem to play a different position every day as they battle for a utility job, will be at second base and shortstop, respectively. Max Schrock will be at third.

Succeeding starting pitcher Michael Wacha will be relievers Mike Mayers, John Brebbia and Dominic Leone.

Carlos Martinez, recovering from a shoulder issue, played catch _ with manager Mike Shildt _ on the first day of a  two-week program. Reliever Luke Gregerson, recovering from a season of arm injuries, threw a bullpen session and worked on some mechanical issues with pitching coach Mike Maddux and special instructor Chris Carpenter.

Both are expected to start the season on the disabled list.

CARDINALS’ LINEUP

1. Harrison Bader cf

2. Yadier Molina c

3. Dexter Fowler rf

4. Jose Martinez lf

5. Rangel Ravelo 1b

6. Drew Robinson 2b

7. Yairo Munoz ss

8. Max Schrock 3b

9. Michael Wacha p

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Rick Hummel

@cmshhummel on Twitter

rhummel@post-dispatch.com

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