JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Ricky Nolasco was pleased after his latest spring outing.
Nolasco, making his fourth appearance, gave up two hits in six strong innings and the Florida Marlins used a four-run third inning Monday to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1.
Nolasco retired 15 consecutive batters during one stretch before Ryan Theriot's single in the sixth.
"For the majority of the time I feel good (with) what I'm doing and I have a good feel for my pitches right now," Nolasco said. "My fastball command was a lot better today than my last start, so I made progress and I'm ready to go."
Nolasco gave up only two singles and no walks while striking out three.
After battling a sprained thumb early in the season and allowing 11 earned runs in his first two appearances, Nolasco gave up only three runs over his final two outings.
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook retired the first two batters of the third, then allowed the next six to reach base - five on consecutive hits.
John Buck had the big hit, a two-run double that one-hopped the center-field wall. Buck then scored the final run of the inning on Westbrook's wild pitch.
"It was ugly, kind of along the lines of good start, bad start," said Westbrook, who finished the spring at 1-2 with a 4.44 ERA. "I need to rectify that and get more consistent."
The Cardinals avoided the shutout when pinch-hitter Tyler Henly singled home Nick Stavinoha in the ninth.
After the game, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said the club had decided to option Stavinoha and pitcher Fernando Salas to the minor leagues. Their departure will leave utility man Daniel Descalso and pitcher Bryan Augenstein to fill the final two open roster spots.