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Gio solid vs. Cards, but offense goes missing

Left-hander allows two runs in 4 2/3 innings; Nats total three just hits

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Wainwright, who has one more start remaining before he pitches the Cardinals' 2014 opener, looked regular-season ready while leading the Cardinals to a 2-0 win over the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium on Friday.

Wainwright was exceptionally efficient, which allowed him to finish eight innings on 81 pitches. He retired 11 consecutive hitters before allowing a leadoff single in the eighth. Wainwright promptly erased that baserunner with a double play. The right-hander recorded his final 12 outs on 35 pitches.

It was the longest start by a Cardinals pitcher this spring, and it came with Yadier Molina behind the plate. The Nationals, who tallied three hits off Wainwright, never advanced a runner to second against him. Wainwright struck out seven.

This marked the second straight year in which a Cardinals starter has pitched eight innings in a spring game against the Nationals. Left-hander Jaime Garcia did so on March 27, 2013.

The Cardinals scored twice early off Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, who, like Wainwright, also has one more spring start on tap before the regular season. St. Louis manufactured an unearned run in the first, which opened with a two-base error by center fielder Jeff Kobernus. Shane Robinson then swiped third and scored on Molina's groundout.

Two innings later, Molina walked, advanced to third on Matt Holliday's double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Allen Craig. Gonzalez's afternoon ended at 82 pitches (57 strikes) with two outs in the fifth. He gave up four hits and walked three.

Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard, Blake Treinen and Xavier Cedeno followed Gonzalez with scoreless relief appearances.

Up next: Doug Fister, who has been sidelined since March 2 with right elbow inflammation, will make his return to the mound on Saturday vs. the Marlins at Space Coast Stadium at 1:05 p.m. ET. The contest can be heard live on Gameday Audio.

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.

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