Garcia throws 8 innings as Cards top Nationals

JUPITER, Fla. – With all those minor leaguers the Washington Nationals were putting on the field, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny needed to make a call.

To the Cardinals’ minor league camp.

Jaime Garcia pitched eight sharp innings against a young Nationals lineup, leading St. Louis to a 10-1 victory Wednesday.

Midway through the game nearly all the Cardinals’ regulars had three at-bats, prompting Matheny to request reinforcements.

“I just didn’t like the whole look of it all to be honest with you,” Matheny said. “Cold day. We’ve had plenty of things here in the last few days make us a little gun shy. Not knowing who they were firing out there at us. All of it led me in the direction of, let’s get (the regulars) a little bit of work and get them out.”

The health of Garcia’s arm was one of the Cardinal’s biggest concerns entering the spring training, but he hasn’t experienced any setbacks in Florida. He finished camp by allowing one run on six hits while striking out eight against a Washington team that did not contain a member of its 40-man roster.

“I’m right at the place that I need to be to start the season,” said Garcia, who said he didn’t know prior to the game he would be facing a bunch of youngsters. “I didn’t really care, I was focusing on going out there and making my pitches.”

The fact that Garcia stymied a Washington lineup that had combined for only 20 major league at-bats this spring entering Wednesday didn’t faze Matheny, either.

“I think it has been a very good spring for him right from the start,” Matheny said. “Once he got going right in his mind, his stuff just follows along.”

Garcia managed only 20 starts last year because arm trouble forced him to miss more than two months in the middle of the regular season and later shut him down early in the playoffs.

The lefty pitched two innings during last season’s playoff run in which the Cardinals came-up one game shy of a repeat trip to the World Series. Offseason shoulder surgery was an option, but Garcia chose rehabilitation without undergoing the procedure.

Garcia made all six of his scheduled starts this spring, posting a 2.48 ERA over 29 innings.

“The biggest thing was being able to go out there every fifth day, being able to trust your stuff, and get yourself in a position where you are ready to go for the season,” Garcia said.

The Cardinals jumped on the Nationals for three runs in each of the first three innings on Wednesday. In the fourth inning Tony Cruz slapped an RBI single through the right side of a a drawn-in Nationals infield, putting the Cardinals up 10-1 and giving all eight position players in the St. Louis starting line-up at least one hit.

Shane Robinson, Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson all enjoyed multihit games for the Cardinals. Batting leadoff, Robinson also scored twice and drove in two more.

After spending most of the spring pitching with Class-A Potomac, Taylor Jordan started for Washington and allowed nine runs – seven earned – on 10 hits in 2 1-3 innings.

“I didn’t think I would be nervous and then I got out there and it was like, eh – stuff starts flying by,” Jordan said. “Especially when I got up there to bunt and I hadn’t faced a pitcher since sophomore year in high school. I felt so awkward up there.”

3B David Freese (back), who will start the season on the DL, said he will not break camp with the Cardinals. Instead, he will remain in Jupiter to play in some minor league games. … LF Matt Holliday returned to the St. Louis starting lineup one day after being scratched because of tightness in his rib cage. Holliday went 1 for 1 with two walks on Wednesday. … RF Carlos Beltran was given the day off after returning to the field on Tuesday against the Mets. Beltran has been battling a toe injury. … Lance Lynn will get his final spring training start on Thursday against Miami in what will be the final home game of the spring for St. Louis. … The Nationals starting lineup featured four position players with spring batting averages of .000. They were a combined 0 for 3 prior to Wednesday. Bench coach Randy Knorr managed the Nationals in Jupiter.