JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Wainwright, who has one more start remaining before he pitches the Cardinals' 2014 opener, looked regular-season ready while leading the Cardinals to a 2-0 win over the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium on Friday.
Wainwright was exceptionally efficient, which allowed him to finish eight innings on 81 pitches. He retired 11 consecutive hitters before allowing a leadoff single in the eighth. Wainwright promptly erased that baserunner with a double play. The right-hander recorded his final 12 outs on 35 pitches.
"My command was good and I had a good mix going -- sinking it, cutting it, four-seam [fastball] and curveball," Wainwright said. "I threw a couple really good changeups. Today was exactly what I wanted to do in incorporating everything and going out to pitch like I would in the regular season."
It was the longest start by a Cardinals pitcher this spring, and it came with Yadier Molina behind the plate. The Nationals, who tallied three hits off Wainwright, never advanced a runner to second against him. Wainwright struck out seven.
This marked the second straight year in which a Cardinals starter has pitched eight innings in a spring game against the Nationals. Left-hander Jaime Garcia did so on March 27, 2013.
The Cardinals scored twice early off Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, who, like Wainwright, also has one more spring start on tap before the regular season. St. Louis manufactured an unearned run in the first, which opened with a two-base error by center fielder Jeff Kobernus. Shane Robinson then swiped third and scored on Molina's groundout.
Two innings later, Molina walked, advanced to third on Matt Holliday's double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Allen Craig. Gonzalez's afternoon ended at 82 pitches (57 strikes) with two outs in the fifth. He gave up four hits and walked three.
Up next: The Cardinals will face the Astros twice this weekend, beginning with Saturday's 12:05 p.m. CT road game in Kissimmee, Fla., on Saturday. Michael Wacha will make the start -- his second in a row against Houston -- and there is a chance Mark Ellis could return to the field after an eight-day absence due to left knee inflammation. The game can be seen live on MLB.TV.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.