Bullpen struggles in late innings as Cardinals fall 11-3 to Nationals

Tommy Parsons (pictured in a game earlier this spring) was charged with five earned runs over 1 1/3 innings in the Cardinals' loss to the Nationals on Sunday.
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Relievers Tommy Parsons and Tyler Webb struggled in the late innings and the St. Louis Cardinals were held to six hits, all singles, as they fell 11-3 to the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The game was tied 3-3 when Parsons entered to begin the bottom of the seventh inning. He gave up a homer to the first batter he faced, veteran catcher Alex Avila. After allowing a single to Jordy Mercer, Parsons recorded three straight outs to finish the seventh, which seemingly brought an end to the day for the right-handed prospect.

Webb replaced Parsons to begin the bottom of the eighth and struggled from the get-go, allowing a leadoff single to Andrew Stevenson and a walk to Kyle Schwarber. After getting Josh Harrison to pop out, the veteran left-hander surrendered an RBI double to Hernán Pérez and an RBI base hit to Avila. At that point, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt decided to take advantage of this year’s modified spring training rules, inserting Parsons back into the game.

Things went poorly for Parsons the second time around, as he faced five batters and allowed four hits. Factoring in the inherited run that Roel Ramírez allowed to score after he came on to get the final out of the eighth, Parsons was charged with five earned runs over 1 1/3 innings.

It wasn’t as rough of a day for the rest of the Cardinals’ staff. Top pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore made his first start of the spring and gave up two earned runs on three hits and two walks while striking out four over 2 1/3 innings. Jake Woodford tossed 2 2/3 shutout innings in relief of Liberatore, and Jordan Hicks also threw a scoreless frame.

The Cardinals’ offense struggled throughout the day. Tommy Edman was the only St. Louis batter with multiple base hits, going 2 for 3. Yadier Molina had an RBI single, and though Grapefruit League standout John Nogowski was held hitless, he was at the plate for two of the Cardinals’ three scoring plays, grounding into a bases-loaded double play that scored Tyler Heineman in the third, then driving in Scott Hurst with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly.

The Cardinals conclude their Grapefruit League schedule on Monday, hosting the Mets at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Adam Wainwright gets the start for St. Louis, while Taijuan Walker will start for New York.