Pujols, Duncan homer in Cards' 12-3 win

Thursday, March 20, 2008

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Adam Loewen failed to get through the second inning Wednesday, yet Baltimore Orioles manager Dave Trembley insisted he's not concerned about the left-hander's health.

Albert Pujols' torn elbow ligament, meanwhile, isn't hurting his swing.

Loewen missed much of last season with a stress fracture in his left elbow and was scratched from Saturday's start with discomfort in his pitching shoulder. He labored through 63 pitches over 1 2/3 innings Wednesday, throwing 35 strikes. He retired only five of 15 hitters in the St. Louis Cardinals' 12-3 victory.

"I saw the ball come out of his hand good. His velocity was good," Trembley said. "His control was not very sharp."

Loewen said he threw pain-free, but acknowledged the layoff affected him.

"I felt like I hadn't pitched in forever. Really rusty, especially on two-strike counts," said Loewen, who allowed four hits, walked four and struck out one. "I couldn't put anybody away, and I let them right back in the count. I ended up hitting a couple of guys. It wasn't a good day."

He allowed a line-drive homer to center by Pujols in the first inning. In the second, Loewen got two strikes on consecutive batters -- Pujols and Troy Glaus -- before hitting them with pitches.

Loewen thinks there's time to make the necessary adjustments before the regular season begins.

"I better come to pitch the next time out so I can get my innings and be ready," he said. "I don't think there's anything wrong mechanically. It's just rust. I'm thinking the more I go out there, the better I'm going to get. I still feel that way. I've just got to start doing it now."

Pujols' fifth spring training homer was further proof that he's not hampered by a torn right elbow ligament that won't be treated surgically unless necessary. He leads the Cardinals with 12 RBIs and is hitting .381.

"If it was a risk, I wouldn't be playing," Pujols said.

Cardinals starter Brad Thompson went four innings, allowing two runs and three hits. He walked one and struck out two.

Skip Schumaker and Chris Duncan also homered for St. Louis. Kevin Millar connected for Baltimore.

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