JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Ricky Nolasco was pleased after his latest spring outing.
Nolasco, making his fourth appearance, gave up two hits in six strong innings and the Florida Marlins used a four-run third inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 on Monday.
Nolasco retired 15 consecutive batters during one stretch before Ryan Theriot's single in the sixth.
``For the majority of the time I feel good (with) what I'm doing and I have a good feel for my pitches right now,' Nolasco said. ``My fastball command was a lot better today than my last start, so I made progress and I'm ready to go.'
Nolasco gave up only two singles and no walks while striking out three.
After battling a sprained thumb early in the season and allowing 11 earned runs in his first two appearances, Nolasco gave up only three runs over his final two outings.
``Ricky Nolasco, he's ready for the season,' Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez said.
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook retired the first two batters of the third, then allowed the next six to reach base - five on consecutive hits.
John Buck had the big hit, a two-run double that one-hopped the center-field wall. Buck then scored the final run of the inning on Westbrook's wild pitch.
``It was ugly, kind of along the lines of good start, bad start,' said Westbrook, who finished the spring at 1-2 with a 4.44 ERA. ``I need to rectify that and get more consistent.'
The Cardinals avoided the shutout when pinch-hitter Tyler Henly singled home Nick Stavinoha in the ninth.
After the game, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said the club had decided to option Stavinoha and pitcher Fernando Salas to the minor leagues. Their departure will leave utility man Daniel Descalso and pitcher Bryan Augenstein to fill the final two open roster spots.
The Cardinals will likely wait to make the decision official until they are sure about the health of Brian Tallet, who is nursing a sore groin. Tallet was scheduled to throw batting practice against minor leaguers on Monday.
Daniel Murphy didn't get the start at third base for the Marlins on Monday, but it does appear that he will win the competition to be Florida's primary third baseman once the season starts.
``I think what we have seen of Murph we are very close to saying he should be the guy,' Rodriguez said before the game.
NOTES: Matt Holliday went 0 for 2 on Monday, returning to the Cardinals' lineup after sitting out Sunday's game with a sore toe. ... St. Louis announced on Monday that its split-squad game at Doulbe-A Springfield has been canceled because of expected inclement weather. As a result, the full Cardinals' roster will be available for Tuesday's game against Florida, then will fly to St. Louis. ... The Marlins close their spring schedule on Wednesday against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
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