K-Rod gets 3 outs on 7 pitches; Cards' Penny stays in after line drive to elbow

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Francisco Rodriguez looked like the dominant pitcher he was with the Angels.

K-Rod wore prescription sunglasses in a spring training debut delayed by conjunctivitis, the same look he used to have with the Angels. After Rodriguez retired the side on seven pitches Monday, Angel Pagan hit a two-run, ninth-inning homer off Pete Parise to give the New York Mets a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Still unable to wear contact lenses after missing more than two weeks, Rodriguez said he felt sharp. He struck out his final batter,

"My location was perfect," he said. "I had good command on my breaking pitches. I felt good out there. If I could do that the rest of the year, that would be nice. I was aggressive today, and that's my goal, to go out and attack the strike zone and put them away as quick as I can."

Pagan, in his first at-bat of the game, sent a drive over the center-field wall.

St. Louis starter Brad Penny was struck on his right elbow by a line drive off the bat of Jason Bay in the first inning. After a few practice tosses, Penny stayed in. He gave up three runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings, striking out one and walking one.

He yielded eight groundouts among 18 batters.

"I was trying to work to get a lot of sinkers in, and I felt good," Penny said. "I got a lot of groundballs out of it, and they really didn't hit the ball too hard except the one that hit me. I felt more comfortable throwing the sinker today."

Mets fifth-starter contenders Fernando Nieve and Jon Niese each gave up two earned runs in three innings, allowing St. Louis to take a 5-3 lead in the sixth.

Nieve gave up five hits and walked one, and Niese allowed four hits and struck out two. The bullpen held the Cardinals hitless through the rest of the game.

"I thought for the most part they both pitched well," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "It's still a competitive situation, and I like what we see as far as progress."

St. Louis had four straight hits off Nieve in the first for a 2-0 lead. Felipe Lopez doubled, and Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick had RBI singles.

Jeff Francoeur's run-scoring single put the Mets ahead 3-2 in the fourth.

Ludwick sparked a three-run sixth inning with an RBI double to regain the lead, but the Mets cut the deficit to one run in the bottom half on an RBI double by Martinez that scored Bay -- both went 2 for 3.