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Nationals drop 6-1 decision to Cards: Max Scherzer makes first Grapefruit League start...

Max Scherzer threw 73 pitches in 4 2⁄3 innings pitched against the St. Louis Cardinals in his first Grapefruit League start this Spring.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer gave up five hits and two earned runs in 4 23 innings pitched in his Grapefruit League debut, but more important than the results was the fact that Washington’s 32-year-old right-hander made it through the outing without any difficulty.

Scherzer was set back this Spring by a stress fracture in the knuckle of the right ring finger, but told reporters after this afternoon’s outing that he’s fine now and on his way to being ready for the start of the 2017 campaign.

Scherzer took the loss as the Nationals dropped a 6-1 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals today in Jupiter, Florida’s Roger Dean Stadium, but everyone seemed happy with the results in spite of the score...

Here’s how it happened:

• Scherzer gave up a one-out triple and a sac fly in the first, as the St. Louis Cardinals jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, then worked around a two-out double.

Scherzer covered first on a throw to Adam Lind on a Stephen Piscotty ground ball in the at bat that followed the two-out, two-base hit, and when he didn’t get the out at first, threw home to cut Jhonny Peralta down at the plate to end a 20-pitch frame.

A one-out walk in the Cards’ second was erased when Kolten Wong, who took the walk, was thrown out trying to steal third base after successfully swiping second.

Another 20-pitch frame left Scherzer at 40 pitches total after two.

Scherzer worked around a two-out double in a 15-pitch third which left him at 55 pitches overall on the afternoon, and retired the side in order in the fourth, in an eight-pitch frame that pushed him up to 63 pitches.

Wong doubled to start the fifth, and two outs later he was still standing on second when Scherzer was lifted, having thrown 73 pitches total on the day.

Joe Nathan took over on the mound and gave up an RBI single by Dexter Fowler that made it 2-0 Cards.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 73 P, 49 S, 3/3 GO/FO.

Greg Garcia followed with an RBI double off Nathan to make it 3-0 St. Louis, and Matt Carpenter connected for the third straight hit off the Nationals’ veteran reliever, 4-0.

Cardinals’ starter Carlos Martinez held the Nats off the board through five innings of work, giving up three hits total.

Jayson Werth drove Trea Turner in with an RBI single off Cardinals’ lefty Brett Cecil in the top of the sixth, getting the Nationals on the board, down 4-1.

Joe Nathan came back out for the sixth and retired the side in order, but the Cards added two runs in the seventh, with Joe Blanton on the mound.

Blanton gave up a leadoff single, one-out walk and a two-out, two-run triple that put the Cardinals up 6-1.

That’s how it ended.

Final score: 6-1 Cardinals.