Nationals 2, Cardinals 1

With spring training winding down, Mike Matheny has a positive

outlook for his St. Louis Cardinals.

”I think the guys are right where we should be,” the

Cardinals’ first-year manager said. ”I believe that spring

training can drag. It hasn’t for me because there has been a lot

going on. It’s interesting talking to these guys, too, because

usually you get to this point and they are like, Let’s just get out

of here. I had a couple of them say it went really fast, too.”

Mark DeRosa’s ninth-inning single to right field scored Danny

Espinosa on a close play at the plate and gave the Washington

Nationals a 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Sunday.

Matheny came out of the dugout to argue the play, a rarity in

spring games.

Matheny said home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn said Espinosa had

already touched the plate by the time catcher Tony Cruz applied the

tag.

”I just didn’t see how that was physically possible,” Matheny

said. ”Every game is the same for me. I don’t try to put more

weight on one or the other, but this was today and right now I

don’t like it, especially how it went down.”

The Cardinals had an opportunity to tie the game or win it in

the bottom of the ninth, putting runners on the corners with two

outs, but Ryan Mattheus struck out Matt Carpenter to end the

game.

Jaime Garcia cruised through the first 5 2/3 innings, allowing

only four hits. Espinoza got the Nationals’ offense going with an

opposite-field home run.

Garcia retired the next batter before heading to the clubhouse.

He shares Matheny’s view that the rotation is primed to start the

season.

”Everybody is healthy, everybody is ready to go,” Garcia said.

”Hopefully we can carry that momentum into the season.”

Washington starter Gio Gonzalez rebounded after two tough

outings by allowing one run and three hits and a walk while

striking out seven in five innings. He retired the Cardinals in

order the first time through the lineup.

St. Louis scored on back-to-back doubles by Tyler Greene and

Carlos Beltran to lead off the fourth.

NOTES: Mike Matheny has selected Kyle Lohse as the opening day

starter. Three players (Chris Carpenter, Allen Craig and Skip

Schumaker) will be placed on the disabled list. … Adam Wainwright

will throw live batting practice to minor league hitters on Monday.

… Washington manager Davey Johnson expects closer Drew Storen

stills need a couple more bullpen sessions before facing live

hitters. Storen will start the season on the DL. … Rick Ankiel

took batting practice with the team in Jupiter on Sunday, but was

not in the lineup. The Nationals’ outfielder has been slowed by a

sore quadriceps injury and has only 15 at-bats this spring.