Cardinals: Ready to start

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny protests to umpire D.J. Reyburn after he called Danny Espinosa of the Nationals safe on a slide into home plate in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game in Jupiter, Fla.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny protests to umpire D.J. Reyburn after he called Danny Espinosa of the Nationals safe on a slide into home plate in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by The Associated Press.

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — 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 Sunday over the Cardinals.

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 today. ... Rick Ankiel took batting practice with the team Sunday in Jupiter, 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.

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