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Cardinals stumble in the eighth, slip to 8-8 tie vs. Braves

Matt Bowman, pitcher

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Matt Bowman poses for a portrait during St. Louis Cardinals spring training on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. • The Happiest Place on Earth hosted a few unlucky moments for Cardinals reliever Matt Bowman, who is trying to make the roster as a Rule 5 player.

Bowman allowed four runs on five hits and saw a three-run lead evaporate against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday at Champion Stadium on the grounds of ESPN Wide World of Sports adjacent to Disney World. Four of those hits were well-struck but on the ground, and another was a double that wasn't. The grounders he got found gaps in the Cardinals defense. One of the outs that Bowman did get was on a ball Aledmys Diaz made a diving snare of to keep from creating more damage.

In the back and forth game, the Cardinals had the early lead, rallied to tie in the fifth inning and then pulled ahead in the sixth before losing the lead in the eighth.

Carlos Peguero's pinch-hit homer tied the game int the ninth.

The teams called the exhibition game after a scoreless bottom of the night by the host Braves.

Jaime Garcia allowed four runs on five hits, but he also struck out six batters. His trouble came as his pitches elevated in the fourth and final inning he appeared. Jedd Gyorko had two hits and two RBIs, and Jonathan Rodriguez added two RBIs on a single as the Cardinals needed to rally in the middle of the game.

Yadier Molina had two plate appearances. He dropped a bunt in his first and then took a strikeout in the second.

He has not yet been cleared to swing a bat, though the Cardinals are intentionally being coy about that before games so that opponents aren't sure whether he will be taking three straight pitches or swing. There is a competitive element to that decision, and manager Mike Matheny said after the game that at some point there's going to be a time where Molina does swing.

***

Cards answer, pull ahead against Braves, 7-4

Jedd Gyorko tied the game with an RBI single in the top of the fifth inning, and then the cardinals pulled ahead with three runs in the top of the sixth.

Jonathan Rodriguez had a two-run single in the inning.

Will update shortly. Some reporting to be done. Thanks for the patience.

Cardinals lead 7-4 and Trevor Rosenthal and Jonathan Broxton have combined for back-to-back scoreless innings to set up Kevin Siegrist for the seventh inning.

***

Braves thunder back with a four-run fourth inning

The Cardinals pecked away at Atlanta for a run and one run only in the first three innings, building a 3-0 lead for lefty Jaime Garcia.

One crooked number and the lead crumbled.

The Braves hammered away at Garcia for four runs in the fourth inning and took a 4-3 lead against the lefty. Hector Olivera had an RBI double in the inning, and Ryan Lavarnway had an two-run double to punctuate the inning. Lavarnway's double went to left-center and it came with two outs as Garcia nearly escaped the inning.

Garcia has allowed five hits and four runs through four innings of work.

The Cardinals blistered Atlanta with eight hits through the first four innings, but the net results of the hits were limited to the three single runs.

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Clock ticking on getting Rule 5 pick Bowman an audition

This morning, as the Cardinals mapped out their pitching plan for Wednesday's game against the Atlanta Braves, it became clear that one of the arms they've wanted to see pitch is running out of time to do so.

Matt Bowman, a righthanded pitcher, had his throwing schedule delayed when he took a baseball off his left eye.

That kept him from throwing in early games, and now with the starting pitchers going deeper into games the innings available for a young arm, especially a long reliever, are dwindling. Lefty Jaime Garcia is making his third start of spring training this afternoon against the Braves at Disney World's sports complex. Garcia could go into and through the fifth inning with his allotted pitches.

That would leave only a few innings, and with Jonathan Broxton and Trevor Rosenthal also on the trip they're going to get priority work.

Bowman could get the squeeze.

What makes him different than the other pitchers who have circulated through spring training with the Cardinals is his roster status: As a Rule 5 pick, he must be on the 25-man active roster all season for the Cardinals to maintain control of him. If they move him off the 25-man roster at any point or he does not make the team out of spring training he must be offered to 28 other teams and then possibly returned to the New York Mets.

The Cardinals see him as a possible long reliever for the season, a swingman in the role that Carlos Villanueva had last season.

The Cardinals have opened up a 2-0 lead on the Braves through two innings. Kolten Wong just hit an RBI single in the top of the second inning to score Garcia.

This story will be updated with action from the game.

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