Morris happy with progress

Thursday, March 24, 2005

JUPITER, Fla. -- Matt Morris' shoulder is getting stronger, and he's feeling more comfortable on the mound.

Morris gave up three hits and a run in three innings, and the St. Louis Cardinals ended the New York Mets' unbeaten streak at 10 games with a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.

After a disappointing season in which he had a career-worst 4.72 ERA, Morris had offseason shoulder surgery. He thinks he needs four more starts to be ready for the season. On Wednesday, he threw 55 pitches and struck out four.

"I feel different. I feel looser and free in my shoulder," Morris said. "I don't have to concentrate as hard. And when I miss [the strike zone], I'm not missing by much, and when I do, I know what is wrong.

"I was honest with you guys last year when I said I felt OK. But OK isn't good," he added. "I didn't know what was going on."

Pinch-hitter Hector Luna gave the Cardinals a 3-2 lead with an RBI single in the eighth inning that scored Scott Rolen, who had doubled.

Kris Benson pitched six innings for the Mets, who were 8-0-2 their previous 10 games. Benson allowed two runs -- one earned -- and five hits.

Jose Reyes had a leadoff triple and a double, and scored the Mets' first run on an RBI single by Carlos Beltran.

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