Wainwright, Diaz shine for St. Louis Cardinals Friday

Posted by Scott Wuerz on March 21, 2014 

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz had a sparkling professional debut Friday. But his first act was overshadowed by a Redbirds veteran in a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals.

Diaz, who started against the Nationals and batted eighth, had two solid, line-drive hits in his first two Grapefruit League plate appearances for St. Louis. But starting pitcher Adam Wainwright shut down opposing hitters for eight dominating and efficient innings to shine as the star of the game.

Wainwright allowed three hits over his eight frames of work and walked none while whiffing seven Nationals hitters. In his last inning, Wainwright gave up a leadoff hit. But almost on command he got the next hitter to ground a tailor-made double play ball to Pete Kozma who slid over to relieve Diaz in the field midway through the game.

Manager Mike Matheny seemed content to let Diaz end end day on a high note instead of giving him a couple more plate appearances. The 23-year-old Cuban didn't have any tough chances in the field to give Cardinals management or the team's fans a clue about his range or arm.

Diaz was the only Redbirds player to collect more than one hit. The Cardinals scored single runs in the first and the third by playing small ball.

In the first, Shane Robinson hit a ball to deep center that should have been caught -- but wasn't. He rolled into second on a two-base error, moved to third with a stolen base and then scored on a Yadier Molina sacrifice.

In the third, Molina walked and went to third when Matt Holliday doubled off the left field wall. Molina scored on an Allen Craig fly out.

Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal worked an uneventful ninth inning to end the game.

It was the sort of contest a non-baseball fan would claim was "boring." But the match-up was a very interesting pitchers duel between two of the best hurlers in the game, Wainwright and his Washington counterpart Gio Gonzalez.

In a side note, while he's fighting to earn a spot on the St. Louis major league roster, Pete Kozma still got a bit of wrath from the handful of Nationals fans who made their way to the game. Kozma still holds a special place in DC lore for striking the final blow of the Redbirds' 2011 NLDS comeback to eliminate the Nationals from the playoffs.

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