Garcia makes return to hill vs. Nationals; Grichuk flashes power

Lefty hadn't started since June due to thoracic outlet surgery

Garcia makes return to hill vs. Nationals; Grichuk flashes power

VIERA, Fla. -- Jaime Garcia made his first start since last June during the Cardinals' 6-5 loss to the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium on Saturday. Expected to throw around 30 pitches, he got through a scoreless first inning, but needed 25 pitches to do so.

Garcia also ran into trouble in the second, getting into three-ball counts on all three hitters he faced. A run scored on a sacrifice fly from Jeff Kobernus, before Garcia was taken out of the game with 41 pitches. Garcia, trying to make the Cardinals' rotation as a fifth starter after thoracic outlet surgery, ended up with a line of one earned run on three hits, one walk and one strikeout in 1 1/3 innings.

"I take this as I got the first one out of the way," Garcia said. "I went out there to do my best. Obviously I walked a guy and then gave up a couple hits here and there. But everything is good. I'm going to get ready for the next time I pitch."

The Nationals' Stephen Strasburg wasn't at his sharpest in his first Grapefruit League start. After retiring the side in order in the first inning, he gave up two runs on three hits, walking two, in a 28-pitch second inning. He was removed from the game for right-hander A.J. Cole after throwing 40 pitches in 1 2/3 innings. Strasburg also struck out two.

The Nationals tagged Cardinals right-hander Carlos Villanueva for a four-run sixth inning thanks to a pair of two-run singles from Matt Skole and Wilmer Difo.

Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper went 1-for-2 with a walk, and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-3.

Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk, who had been slowed earlier this Spring with lower back soreness, blasted the first pitch he saw from Cole in the third inning for a home run.

Grichuk's solo shot

Cole allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Up next for the Cardinals: Righty Lance Lynn will make his spring debut for the Cardinals in their 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Marlins on Sunday. The start is expected to be the first of five Grapefruit League starts for Lynn, who signed a three-year extension with the club just a month before reporting to camp. Lefty Tim Cooney, who is likely to begin the season in the Triple-A rotation, is expected to follow Lynn in the game. The game can be listened to live on Gameday Audio.