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Nationals 6-5 over Cardinals: Stephen Strasburg makes first Spring start

Washington Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg wasn't exactly sharp, but he got his work in and the Nats rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-5, in Grapefruit League action. A.J. Cole, Felipe Rivero, Jerry Blevins and others took the mound...

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes: In the first inning of his first start of the Spring, 26-year-old Washington Nationals' starter Stephen Strasburg needed just 12 pitches to retire the St. Louis Cardinals in order, popping Kolten Wong up to first, throwing a mid-90s 0-2 heater by Peter Bourjos outside and then getting a groundout to short off Matt Adams' bat that Nats' shortstop-for-the-day Danny Espinosa handled from behind second base.

Cards' right fielder Randal Grichuk worked the count full in the first at bat of the Cards' second and took an 89 mph changeup(?) outside for ball four. Third baseman Scott Moore singled to right in the next at bat, sending Grichuk around to third, where Anthony Rendon dropped the throw in from Bryce Harper in right, allowing Moore to move to second. Xavier Scruggs' excuse-me single to right dropped in front of Harper and allowed Grichuk to score, 1-0 Cardinals.

Cards' catcher Tony Cruz worked the count full with runners on the corners and no one out and walked, taking a fastball up high for ball four and Strasburg's second free pass of the inning. Rafael Ortega reached on an infield single that pulled Ryan Zimmermann off the bag. Emmanuel Burriss fielded it, but found no one at home at first base when he turned there looking for an out. 2-0. (Get over there, Stras!). Pete Kozma popped to short left on Strasburg's 23rd pitch of the inning. Strasburg dropped a 2-2 curve in on Kolten Wong's hands to get a swinging K with his 40th and final pitch of the outing.

A.J. Cole inherited a bases-loaded, two-out jam and got a fly to left field from Peter Bourjos on a hanging curve for out no.3 of the second inning.

Dan Uggla walked, went first-to-third™ on a single by Tony Gwynn, Jr. and scored on a sac fly by Jeff Kobernus to get the Nationals on the board in the second.

Randal Grichuk got hold of a high fastball from Cole (who was up in the zone) in the top of the third and hit a solo home run out to left field to make it 3-1 Cardinals.

The Cards added a run off Cole on a sac fly by Pete Kozma in the fourth after a misplay on a potential DP grounder, 4-1.

Jerry Blevins and Casey Janssen threw scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, respectively.

Nats' 1B/3B prospect Matt Skole showed off the glove with a diving play and strong throw from third in the top of the sixth inning with Janssen on the mound, then came through with his bat in the bottom of the inning, sending a two-out, two-run double to center off right-hander Carlos Villanueva to get the Nationals within one run, 4-3 St. Louis.

Wilmer Difo drove in two more in the next at bat as the Nats took the lead, 5-4.

Felipe Rivero took the mound in the seventh and retired the Cardinals in order.

Michael Taylor hustled to first to beat out a potential DP grounder in the Nationals' seventh, then sped around the bases on a line drive to right by Cutter Dykstra that was misplayed into a triple. 6-4 Nationals.

Bruce Billings threw a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 inning in relief in the eighth.

Scott McGregor (it's alright if you say, 'Who?') gave up three straight two-out singles and a run in the ninth, but the Nationals held on for a 6-5 win.