By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – It was just one at-bat in a spring training game, but what Adam Wainwright learned by facing Bryce Harper on Wednesday could go a long way toward helping him become a better pitcher this season.
The at-bat in the first inning of the Cardinals’ game against the Nationals lasted nine pitches and finally ended with Harper striking out.
“That was a good at-bat, he’s tough,” Wainwright said. “I love at-bats like that.”
Wainwright appeared to have Harper struck out earlier in the at-bat but umpire Angel Hernandez had called time at the last moment before the pitch.
“He spoiled several very good pitches and took a couple of really close pitches where most people would have swung,” Wainwright said about Harper. “I threw a few different looks at him. Traditionally I’ve changed even sides of the rubber (against Harper). On those good guys I’m never just going to give them one look.
“I’m trying out a few things. I wanted to see those good hitters’ reactions to them.”
Wainwright worked 3 2/3 innings in his second start of the spring, allowing one run, before the Cardinals rallied with two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth for a 4-3 victory.
Other news and notes from Wednesday:
High: Greg Garcia homered off Max Scherzer, the Cardinals’ only hit in four innings against the St. Louis native.
Low: Connor Greene allowed two hits and two walks in just 2/3 of an inning, leading to the tying run scoring in the top of the eighth after the Cardinals had taken the lead in the seventh.
At the plate: The Cardinals trailed 2-1 in the seventh before Breyvic Valera’s two-run single gave them the lead. … They broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth when Luke Voit singled and pinch-runner Randy Arozarena advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Francisco Pena … Garcia also had another hit, a single, after being 2-of-15 in his first seven games this spring … The Cardinals also had two more stolen bases, including the sixth of the spring by Kolten Wong.
On the mound: Wainwright did allow the leadoff hitter to reach base in each of the first three innings. He struck out four and walked one, finishing with 63 pitches … John Gant allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings … Matt Bowman recorded the final four outs, with one walk and one strikeout. He has not allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings this spring.
On the back fields: Brett Cecil made his first appearance of the spring in a six-inning B game. He allowed one run on two hits in one inning but manager Mike Matheny said he remains on the trainer’s program … The Cardinals lost the game 2-1 to the Marlins. Jason Motte and Josh Lucas each pitched a perfect inning … Former first-round pick Delvin Perez had a single and scored the Cardinals’ only run.
Up next: Carlos Martinez will make his second start of the spring on Thursday when the Cardinals play the Marlins.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains