JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals' bats broke out in a big way Thursday and, in a related development, it was not a good day for Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
A five-run outburst in the fourth inning highlighted the Cards' 9-0 victory over the Nats at Roger Dean Stadium, as manager Mike Matheny got a good look at how dangerous a Carlos Beltran-Matt Holliday-David Freese-Yadier Molina grouping can be.
The Nats employed a lineup quite light in the regulars department, and Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia took advantage, tossing five scoreless innings in which he allowed just three hits, while striking out nine.
After getting on the board with a run in the second, the Cards really took over in the third. Beltran doubled off Gonzalez with one out, and Holliday walked. One out later, Molina singled on a grounder to left to score both runners and make it 3-0.
And in the fourth, the game spun out of control for Gonzalez and the Nats. Shane Robinson led off with a single, and Tony Cruz doubled him home. One out later, leadoff man Tyler Greene smacked his first homer of the spring -- a two-run shot to left -- to make it 6-0. It was a big blast for Greene, vying for the starting second-base duties.
"It's a great feeling to get some carry on the ball," Greene said. "With the wind down here, it's definitely not helping the hitters. It was great in that situation with a runner on and less than two outs to get a ball up in the air to the outfield."
And the runs kept coming after Beltran walked and Adron Chambers doubled, as Matt Carpenter singled home both runners to cap the five-run frame. It was 8-0 Cards.
The Cards would get another run in the sixth off Nats rotation candidate Ross Detweiler, and the Nationals did not have any answers.
Up next: Jordan Zimmermann, who threw four shutout innings against the Marlins in his last start, will make his fourth start of the spring when the Nats travel to Kissimmee, Fla., to face the Astros at 1:05 p.m. ET Friday on Gameday Audio. Zimmermann has worked 10 2/3 innings over three starts this spring, allowing four runs on 15 hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.