Gonzalez goes 4 shutout innings, Nats-Cards called

March 11, 2012

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Gio Gonzalez's mood wasn't dampened by a rainout. He had 20 boisterous family members and friends in the crowd to boost his spirits.

The Miami native pitched two-hit ball for four innings Sunday before the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals were postponed because of rain.

"My parents, I had to tell them to turn it down a bit," a visibly excited Gonzalez joked. "I heard that whole section over there."

Gonzalez's entourage made the hour drive to see the former Okland A's player pitch closer to home then he ever had as a professional.

The lefty didn't disappoint. The toughest part of his day was recording the final out of the fourth in a steady rain.

"It was tough," said Gonzalez, who threw Gonzalez threw 36 of his 51 pitches for strikes. "It almost got to the point where I was telling (Yadier) Molina, Here's a fastball. Hit it, please. Get me out of this inning, already. I'm drenched over here."

Gonzalez's outing impressed St. Louis manager Mike Matheny.

"He's got good stuff," Matheny said. "You could see how the guys were reacting to his changeup. He's got that fastball that he would take a little bit off, put a little bit more on. It didn't have so much of a downward changeup action, it just looked like a fastball that the parachute was on it."

An American League All-Star last season, Gonzalez was acquired from Oakland as part of a six-player trade in December, then signed a contract extension through 2016.

He figured this start offered a glimpse of what the atmosphere will be like when the Nationals travel division rival Miami multiple times each year.

"That's just 20 (fans)," a smiling Gonzalez said. "Imagine. There is going to be more. I know this for a fact. I definitely have a nice big fan base in Miami. ...This is going to be amazing."

The rain also didn't keep St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook from getting his full slate of work. Also making his second start of the spring, Westbrook lasted three innings, yielding a run. He allowed three hits while striking out two. He threw 32 of his 42 pitches for strikes.

Roger Bernadina hit a run-scoring grounder that that skipped through Westbrook's legs and into center field, prompting the right-hander to smack his glove.

"It felt like it just disappeared on me," said Westbrook, who recorded six of his nine outs on groundballs. "I felt like I had it -- that's why I was so fired up. I feel like I should be able to field my position. I get a lot of groundballs back to me. I take pride in being able to do it."

The Cardinals and Nationals will meet again on Monday, with St. Louis sending a split squad to Viera. The Cardinals that don't make the trip will remain in Jupiter to face Atlanta.

NOTES: Washington manager Davey Johnson said outfielder Mike Morse received a cortisone shot to help with his strained back muscle. Morse could return as designated hitter as early as Monday, Johnson said. Morse has only appeared in one game for the Nationals this spring, going 1-for-2. ... Top Nationals prospect Bryce Harper hasn't played since March 6 and will likely miss Monday's game against St. Louis, too, Johnson said. The 19-year-old Harper has five hits in 11 at-bats this spring, but has a strained calf muscle. ... Matheny said outfielder Carlos Beltran will return to the lineup on Monday against Atlanta as the Cardinals' designated hitter. Matheny expects Beltran to get at least three at-bats, depending on how his timing feels. Beltran hasn't played since the first game of spring training because of illness.