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Lopez gives up early runs in loss to Cardinals

Lopez gives up early runs in loss to Cardinals

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Lopez gives up early runs in loss to Cardinals
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jon Jay's two-run triple highlighted a three-run third inning that propelled the Cardinals to a 6-1 win over the Braves at Champion Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Atlanta starter Rodrigo Lopez retired seven of the first eight hitters he faced, then allowed consecutive one-out singles to Kyle Lohse and Tyler Greene in the third. Jay followed with his triple to right field and later scored on Allen Craig's two-out double.

Lohse allowed just one run and four hits in four innings. The only run he surrendered came after Craig bobbled Wilkin Castillo's fourth-inning leadoff single in right and allowed the athletic catcher to advance to third on the play. Jason Heyward drove Castillo in with a sharp single up the middle.

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Lopez allowed three earned runs and five hits in four innings. Albert Pujols accounted for two of the five strikeouts recorded by the veteran pitcher.

The Cards' David Freese hit his first spring homer, a two-run shot off Braves reliever Yohan Flande in the sixth.

The game was delayed 14 minutes in the first inning after Braves Minor League manager Luis Salazar was struck in the face by a foul ball that was lined into the home dugout by Brian McCann. Salazar fell to the ground and remained motionless until an ambulance arrived to take him to an area where he could be airlifted to Orlando Regional Hospital.

Up next for the Braves: Derek Lowe will make his third start of the exhibition season Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET, when Atlanta hosts St. Louis at Disney. During this scheduled four-inning stint, Lowe is expected to show more breaking balls than he did during his first two starts. Highly-regarded right-hander Julio Teheran, rated MLB.com's 10th-best prospect, got some of the butterflies out of his system while tossing a scoreless inning in his debut against the Marlins on Monday. He is scheduled to pitch at least one inning against the Cards.

Up next for the Cardinals: Thursday brings Kyle McClellan's next chance to solidify his status as the heavy favorite for the Redbirds' vacant fifth-starter job. Barring something unforeseen and unlikely, McClellan only needs to stay healthy and pitch reasonably well to open the season in the club's rotation. In his first start, he did more than that, turning in an excellent effort against the Astros. Bryan Augenstein, Brian Tallet, Trever Miller, Adam Reifer and Blake King are among the hurlers who will be available in relief for the game against the Braves at Champion Stadium. First pitch is set for 12:05 p.m. CT.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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