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04/06/2013 8:35 PM EDT
Beltran drives in 3 runs as Cards beat Giants
ST LOUIS 6, SAN FRANCISCO 3

By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Baseball Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Carlos Beltran is a realist. The St. Louis
Cardinals' season has just begun, so there's not a lot that can
be told from one lousy game - like Friday - or one in which the
offense clicks up and down the order as it did a day later.



Yet he is pretty sure the latter provides a better glimpse of
what this team can be.



Beltran hit a go-ahead two-run single in the fifth against his
former team and Shelby Miller beat the reigning World Series
champion San Francisco Giants in his second career start,
spoiling Buster Posey's MVP party at AT&T Park with a 6-3 win on
Saturday.



"I feel good, man," Beltran said. "This is a good team, a good
lineup. We have guys from top to bottom who can do the job. It's
fun. As a player, you just want to go out there and be part of
it."



Pete Kozma had three hits, drove in a run and scored for St.
Louis from the No. 8 spot in the order, Matt Holliday singled in
a run and Matt Carpenter added an RBI single in the ninth.



Beltran also hit an RBI single in the first against Ryan
Vogelsong (0-1) in a matchup of the teams that won the past
three World Series - and a rematch of last fall's NL
championship series won in seven games by the Giants.



Hunter Pence hit a solo homer in the second and Pablo Sandoval
homered and hit an RBI single. He also played more strong
defense for San Francisco on a day Vogelsong (0-1) struggled to
consistently command the strike zone.



Posey received his NL MVP plaque in another highlight-filled
pregame ceremony, and the Giants will have yet another day of
celebrating before Sunday's game with the World Series ring
presentation.



Posey also was honored for his batting title and Silver Slugger
award. Kevin Mitchell, the 1989 NL MVP, and 2000 MVP Jeff Kent
took part, along with former MVP winners and Hall of Famers
Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.



"It was definitely a different pregame for me than normal but it
was nice to be able to celebrate that with the fans," Posey
said.



St. Louis' pitchers faced baserunners every inning but limited
the damage.



Miller (1-0) walked Pence with one out in the sixth, then Randy
Choate relieved and walked Brandon Belt on four pitches before
pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias lined the first pitch he saw into a
double play to first baseman Allen Craig.



Miller, the Cardinals' top pitching prospect, allowed four hits
and two runs in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked
four in the first road start of his career.



He went 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA in three spring training starts and
five overall appearances, and faced San Francisco twice in
relief during last fall's NLCS.



Miller credited catcher Yadier Molina for his guidance to stick
with his off-speed pitches even when he left them up in the zone
and the Giants made contact.



"That's just the lessons I'll have to work on, trusting my
curveball," he said.



Mitchell Boggs, filling in for injured closer Jason Motte,
finished for his first save after blowing his initial chance.



The Cardinals earned their second win of the year, giving their
pitchers plenty of offense a day after getting three-hit by
Barry Zito and two relievers in a 1-0 loss.



After Jon Jay's foul popup to start the game, Carpenter reached
on an infield single and advanced on a passed ball during
Holliday's strikeout. Carpenter reached third on a wild pitch as
Craig batted. Craig, who had two of his team's three hits
Friday, walked and Beltran singled home Carpenter.



The earned run ended a stretch of 26 straight innings without
allowing one to begin the year for San Francisco's starters.
Vogelsong needed 28 pitches to get through the inning.



After that, Vogelsong allowed Kozma's one-out single in the
second before retiring the next eight St. Louis batters in
order.



World Series MVP Sandoval homered leading off the eighth for his
second of the year. Posey followed with a double for his lone
hit of the game on a day the first 40,000 fans received his
bobblehead doll - just about everybody in the sellout crowd of
41,402.



Sandoval said he is still finding his timing after missing 13
games late in spring training with an inflamed nerve in his
right elbow.



"You want me to tell you the truth?" he said. "A little bit
lost."



NOTES: Cardinals 3B David Freese, on the disabled list with a
strained lower back, went 1 for 4 with a double and two RBIs on
Friday in a minor league rehab game with Triple-A Memphis
against Oklahoma City. The hope has been that he would return in
time for the home opener Monday against Cincinnati. "We'll see
how things go," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's going to do
some extra running today and really put a good pounding on his
back." ... Belt lost 11 pounds to get down to 218 with his
stomach bug earlier in the week. He last threw up Wednesday, but
the 1B was still working to get back his strength. He has been
eating protein bars between innings. "That's the battle, getting
the weight back," Belt said. ... San Francisco's win Friday came
on Angel Pagan's bases-loaded walk, the first time the Giants
won a 1-0 game via an RBI free pass since Dick Groat drew one in
the top of the 21st inning on Sept. 1, 1967, at Cincinnati, the
Giants said, according to Elias. ... Giants' Double-A Richmond
pitchers Jack Snodgrass and Daryl Maday combined on the first
no-hitter in team history Friday night in the second game of a
doubleheader vs. New Britain.

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