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Cards' younger Benes continues to improve

Cardinals RHP Alan Benes continued his steady progress toward the regular season Monday against Kansas City. Benes pitched 4 innings, gave up six hits and one earned run.

"I haven't thrown that many pitches yet this spring," said Benes, who threw 75 pitches. "I felt a little out of synch as the game wore on. But everything is on course for the regular season."

OF Wille McGee had two doubles and four RBI in the Cardinals' 5-1 win. St. Louis has won five straight exhibition games and 17 overall, two more than last spring.

OF Andy Van Slyke might not be in St. Louis for the start of the regular season. Van Slyke, a non-roster invitee, injured his left calf muscle Saturday and is unable to run.

"I took a swing at a changeup and almost felt like the catcher had thrown a baseball at me and hit me," Van Slyke said. "I knew it was pretty serious."

Van Slyke may have to remain in St. Petersburg for extended spring training, along with OF Ray Lankford and RHP Andy Benes.

GM Walt Jocketty and manager Tony La Russa both indicated they wanted Van Slyke to stay with it.

"Based on what I've seen, he showed a lot of baseball life," La Russa said.

LHP Donovan Osborne starts tonight at 7:05 against Philadelphia RHP Mike Grace. This is the last game the Cardinals will play at Al Lang Stadium as the host team. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays begin play there next season while the Cardinals move to Jupiter.

Approximately 450 bleacher seats will go on sale at 5 at Al Lang's ticket office for tonight's contest. All other seats are sold out.

_ RODNEY PAGE, TIMES WIRES

Wells pitches strong

WINTER HAVEN _ LHP David Wells struck out seven in five innings and C Jorge Posada hit a three-run home run as the visiting Yankees beat the Indians 6-4.

New York, 9-3 against Cleveland last season, took two of three from the Indians this spring.

OF Paul O'Neill had three of New York's 13 hits, going 3-for-3, and Mark Whiten, who started in centerfield, went 2-for-5.

_ TIMES WIRES

Harris, Burba sparkle

BRADENTON _ INF Lenny Harris hit a two-run homer in the third inning as the visiting Reds defeated the Pirates 5-3. 1B Hal Morris and 2B Bret Boone had two hits apiece as the Reds managed 11 hits off the Pirates' pitching staff.

Reds RHP Dave Burba started and gave up two runs and four hits over five innings. LHP Mike Remlinger followed with two scoreless innings, and RHP Jeff Brantley finished up in the ninth.

Cincinnati is having trouble selling tickets for some of its interleague games, reporting sluggish sales for its home series against the Brewers (June 30-July 2) and Royals (Sept. 1-3). But sales are brisk for the three-game White Sox series scheduled June 13-15.

_ TIMES WIRES

Leiter can't handle Jays

CLEARWATER _ Mark Leiter tried to stop the bleeding on the Phillies' pitching staff against the Blue Jays, but with little success in the 8-0 loss.

In losing four straight, Phils' hurlers have yielded 36 runs on 52 hits.

Leiter coasted through two innings before SS Alex Gonzalez tripled and scored the Jays' first run on a single in the third inning. They added two more in the fourth on a double and a grounder and two more off Leiter in the fifth.

Leiter, making his fifth start, went six innings, surrendered five runs on six hits and took the loss. RHP Ken Ryan yielded a three-run homer to INF Juan Samuel in the eighth.

The Phils committed three errors, including 1B Darren Daulton's first of the spring.

Results of the MRI on RHP Curt Schilling's right shoulder will not be known until later in the week. The MRI was taken for insurance purposes. RHP Edgar Ramos suffered a contusion on his right hand when hit by a line drive and is improving. RHP Mark Portugal left Sunday's game against the Rangers with inflammation in his right elbow and is day-to-day.

LHP Tim Fortugno (1-0, 4.70) was reassigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. RHP Tyler Green, who missed all last season because of shoulder surgery, was placed on rehab assignment.

Manager Terry Francona named RHP Bobby Munoz his fifth starter, joining Schilling, Portugal, Leiter and RHP Mike Grace.

Phillies 2B Mickey Morandini left after two innings for treatment. He fouled a ball off his right foot Sunday against Texas.

_ PHIL GULICK

Person hurls shutout ball

CLEARWATER _ RHP Robert Person took dead aim on making the Blue Jays' starting rotation with a four-hit, five-inning shutout of the Phillies at Jack Russell Stadium.

The Jays tagged starter and loser RHP Mark Leiter for five runs on seven hits and handed the Phillies their fourth straight loss 8-0.

Person, traded from the Mets for 1B John Olerud last December, retired the first eight batters, struck out five and won his first game in four starts this spring. Relievers Huck Flener, Paul Quantrill and Mike Timlin preserved the shutout.

The Jays got to Leiter for two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth. INF Carlos Delgado's run-scoring double and C Charlie O'Brien's grounder brought scored two in the fourth. INF Felipe Crespo's double and INF Mike Aldrete's sacrifice fly scored two more in the fifth.

Pinch-hitter Juan Samuel tagged Phillies reliever Ken Ryan for a three-run homer in the eighth.

X-rays on INF Joe Carter's right hand proved negative; he bruised it making a play against the White Sox on Sunday.

OF Jacob Brumfield is nursing a pulled hamstring.

RHP Juan Guzman (2-1, 2.75) starts against RHP Chad Ogea at the Indians today.

_ PHIL GULICK

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