Nationals' offense shows early life in loss to Cards
Stewart, Uggla lead off run-scoring innings; Storen exits early
By Jamal Collier and Jenifer Langosch
JUPITER, Fla. -- Matt Holliday's two-out, two-run single off Nationals reliever Xavier Cedeno finished the Cardinals' climb out of an early two-run hole and lifted St. Louis to a 6-2 win at Roger Dean Stadium on Monday.
Facing the Cardinals for the fourth and final time this spring, the Nationals jumped on Cardinals starter Michael Wacha for runs in both the second and third. Leadoff doubles by Ian Stewart and Dan Uggla set up each of those run-scoring innings.
After tying the game against Washington starter Taylor Jordan in the third, the Cardinals capitalized on a wild pitch in the fifth that moved a pair of runners into scoring position. Holliday then delivered a line-drive single to left-center, picking up his sixth and seventh RBIs of the spring.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Wacha wraps up: Wacha had a laborious beginning to his final Grapefruit League appearance, but he ended it by retiring nine of the final 10 batters he faced. He threw 86 pitches (53 strikes) over five innings, with 69 of those coming in the first three frames. Wacha, who allowed five hits, two runs (one earned) and three walks to the Nationals, finished with 16 strikeouts and four earned runs allowed in 20 1/3 spring innings.
Taking the help: After falling behind early, the Cardinals scored twice to tie the game in the third without generating a hit. Mark Reynolds and Kolten Wong drew walks against Jordan to open the inning. Two productive outs pushed the first run home, while an error allowed the second run to score.
Stating their case: With just four more games remaining on the Nationals' spring schedule, every opportunity is key for the non-roster invitees trying to make the team. Uggla and Stewart were both in the starting lineup Monday and made the most of their chance. They each doubled and scored a run. Uggla and Stewart were joined by Clint Robinson and Tony Gwynn Jr. as non-roster players in the starting lineup Monday.
"I've gone through a lot of things in my career, and this is the first time for this. I am extremely excited to be here, and obviously to finally feel that I can wear the jersey now and feel a part of the group 100 percent. It's a good feeling." -- Carlos Villanueva, before Monday's relief appearance, on awaiting word on whether he'd be on the Cardinals' Opening Day roster.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Peter Bourjos' sixth-inning steal was the Cardinals' 27th of the spring, a Major League most. Fourteen players have swiped at least one bag. The Cardinals ranked 28th in the Majors with 57 stolen base during the regular season in 2014.
With his entrance as a pinch-runner, Stephen Piscotty has played every day of the Cardinals' Grapefruit League season. That means he has appeared in 23 of the team's 24 games, with the only exception coming on a split-squad day in which the club played games simultaneously two hours apart.
The Nationals are set to play their final game at Space Coast Stadium this spring when they host the Mets at 1:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who is lined up as the team's No. 4 starter, will make his final Grapefruit League start. He is coming off his longest and best outing of the spring this past Thursday, also against the Mets, when he gave up two hits in five scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
Adam Wainwright will make his final spring tuneup against the Marlins on Tuesday in preparation for Sunday's Opening Night start at Wrigley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT, with Henderson Alvarez scheduled to go for Miami (watch the game for free on MLB.TV). This will be Wainwright's third Grapefruit League start since recovering from an abdominal strain. He's expected to be pushed to near the 90-pitch mark.