Cards, Wacha hope to continue mastery of Nats

( - The St. Louis Cardinals eye another win over the Washington Nationals when their four-game series resumes Friday at Nationals Park.

St. Louis has won nine straight against Washington, and that includes Thursday's 8-0 shutout in the series opener.

Adam Wainwright tossed a two-hit shutout on Thursday as he went the distance for the first time this season. Matt Holliday went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI to help spark a pair of three-run innings for the Cards.

Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche each had singles to account for Washington's only two hits in the game. In the field, Desmond committed two of the team's four errors. While it is still early in the season, especially for a team that sits just 1 1/2 games off the pace in the NL East, Nationals manager Matt Williams decided to have a closed-door meeting with his team.

"That's for me and my team." Williams said of the meeting topic. "I seem very upset? I'm just not answering that question. That's for me and my team, and nobody else's business. Regarding the game, it was probably the worst one we played."

St. Louis is on a bit of a roll with wins in five of its last six games. Friday's tilt marks the fifth leg of an 11-game road trip.

Meanwhile, Washington has lost five of seven and sorely needs to bounce back from Thursday's dreadful performance.

"We know that we played pretty bad," catcher Jose Lobaton said of Thursday's loss. "We are professionals and we have to get ready for (Friday)."

Tasked with stopping the bleeding is lefty Gio Gonzalez, who was tagged for six runs in six innings against the Braves his last time out. All six of those runs were scored in the first two innings, but Gonzalez stayed in the game and went on to throw 103 pitches because the bullpen had been taxed.

Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha, who is in his first full season in the majors, had to endure rain delays in each of his first three starts. The delays have not seemed to bother the young hurler, considering he is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA.

Washington certainly remembers him well, as Wacha nearly no-hit the Nats last September before giving up an infield single with two outs in the ninth inning.

Williams spoke about this early-season measuring stick series for his team.

"It starts with their rotation," the Nats skipper said of the Cardinals. "They have one of the best catchers (Yadier Molina) in the league and he runs a great game, both offensively and defensively. They have power, they have some speed, they play exceptional defense. All of that combined is the reason they are at where they are at. Do we measure ourselves? I guess, yes, but ultimately we have to worry about ourselves and play the game the way we want to play it in order to have a chance to beat them."


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