Young Braves pitcher bolsters bid for starting rotation against Cards

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Jair Jurrjens is making it hard for the Atlanta Braves to keep him out of the starting rotation.

"I'm trying to show I belong here," the 21-year-old from Curacao said. "Until I get the news, I don't have a spot."

The words he wants to hear may be coming soon.

"He's a true pitcher," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "I know he won't be perfect all the time, but he has been so far."

Jurrjens ran his spring scoreless streak to eight innings Monday, limiting St. Louis to two singles and a walk over four innings as the Braves defeated the Cardinals 3-1.

Jurrjens, acquired by the Braves from Detroit in the Edgar Renteria trade, faced just one batter over the minimum.

Jurrjens gave up a first-inning run in his opening start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but hasn't allowed a run since. He pitched three hitless innings in his second start against Cleveland.

Jurrjens is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA for the spring and has allowed just six base runners in nine innings.

While Jurrjens was sharp throughout Monday, Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright struggled early with his control.

Wainwright, who won 16 games last season and is expected to be the Cardinals' opening day starter, gave up two first-inning runs before steadying. He allowed three hits and three walks in five innings, with just one base runner over his final three frames.

"He came out [after the first inning] and had a thought in mind that he needed to make a switch," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He and [pitching coach Dave Duncan] talked about it and he was better."

Wainwright, 0-1 with a 3.27 spring ERA, was able to get in the five innings he was shooting for, making 62 pitches.

"He did all right," La Russa said. "He didn't throw his curveball as good, but he had command of his fastball and that's always important."

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