Nationals starter Dan Haren wasn't as sharp, and the Cardinals jumped on him for four first-inning runs. Jon Jay, who was celebrating his birthday on Friday, led off the inning with a homer over the right-field wall. After singles by Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams delivered a three-run shot, also to right.
"That was just one of those days, man. I felt like I was throwing a weighted ball out there," Haren said. "It was just bad, all the way around. As I went along it was a little bit better, but my first couple starts were far and away better than this. I just, I don't know if it's dead arm, or I don't even know what that is, I just didn't feel great."
The home run was the third of the spring for Adams, who is battling for a bench spot.
Haren settled down from there, allowing only two other hits over his final four innings. The five-inning appearance was Haren's longest of the spring.
Edward Mujica, who had been charged with 10 runs in his previous four innings, struck out the side in a scoreless seventh for St. Louis. The Nationals received a scoreless relief appearance from Yunesky Maya.
Up next for the Nationals: Washington's Opening Day starter Stephen Strasburg will take the mound under the lights for the Nats on Saturday (6:05 p.m. ET) against the visiting Astros, who are expected to send top prospects Carlos Correa and Jonathan Singleton on the trip. Ryan Zimmerman, who has been appearing as a designated hitter this spring, could be making his first start of the year at third base for Washington, while Strasburg may be the first pitcher to hit for himself.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.