The stakes were not nearly as high as their last meeting, but this time the Washington Nationals got a lead over the St. Louis Cardinals and held it, beating the Cards 6-2 at their home spring training park at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL.
In their first spring training matchup since the NLDS last season, the Nats sent Gio Gonzalez out to face the Cards’ Adam Wainright, the same matchup of the deciding NLDS Game 5 which ended in bitter disappointment. But the relaxed atmosphere at spring training mitigated any hard feelings resultant of the hotly-contested series — at least on the part of the players.
For fans, though, maybe the hard feelings will still take a while to sort out.
Gonzalez is ramping his way up in order to participate in the WBC second round, should Team USA advance in the qualifying round. He worked three innings, throwing 52 pitches. In a departure for the nasty left-hander, Gonzalez did not strike out a batter. He gave up two earned runs on five hits and a walk.
In the first inning, Cards prospect Oscar Tavares walked, took second on Matt Holliday’s single and scored on Allen Craig’s double to left. The damage could have been worse, but a Tyler Moore to Ian Desmond to Kurt Suzuki relay gunned down Holliday at the plate.
The Cards got to Gonzalez for another run in the third inning. Jon Jay reached on a one-out single, went to third on Tavares’ single and came home on Craig’s infield single. But that’s all the offense the Cardinals could muster on the day.
The Nats took advantage of the heavy breeze to right field, hitting three opposite field home runs to pace an 11-hit attack. Anthony Rendon hit his second of the year in a four-run second inning. Chris Marrero added his first of the spring the next inning. And Ian Desmond added to the homer parade with a solo shot in the sixth, his first as well.
Rendon added a double later to finish the day 2-for-3, upping his spring average to .438.
The rest was up to the Nats bullpen and they came through with flying colors. Nathan Karns threw a scoreless inning, despite allowing a hit and two walks. Ryan Perry was stellar, tossing three scoreless while allowing just two hits and no walks. Drew Storen struck out the first two batters he saw — looking — but then gave up back-to-back singles and a walk before getting the Cards ninth-place hitter to pop out to end the eighth. Erik Davis finished things up with a perfect ninth, striking out one.
The Nationals host the Cardinals Sunday at 1:05 pm from Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL.