- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Kolten Wong got a chance to bat leadoff for the St. Louis Cardinals and was hitless in two at-bats Sunday during a 5-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.

Wong vocalized his desire to hit in the top spot during the offseason. He got his first opportunity of the spring and lined out and grounded out.

“I’ve asked for things and they don’t need to answer anything I’ve asked for, but they’ve definitely given me shots,” Wong said. “That’s all you can ask for, them understanding that you have a passion to try something out and them actually giving you the chance to do it.”

With Wong occupying the leadoff spot and outfielder Matt Holliday sitting out another day after a stiff lower back, manager Mike Matheny moved Matt Carpenter from first to third in the lineup.

Wong saw six pitches in his first at-bat. He’s hoping more patience at the plate will lead to more consistency.

“I think that’s the reason why I’ve been the player that I have is I feel like I’m a little too aggressive at some points,” said Wong, who signed a $25.5 million, five-year contract last week. “I think, for me, this spring training is going to be a lot of making sure I swing at strikes and just trying to see how far I can get into counts.”

Said Matheny: “When a guy makes an effort to try to do something we give him a shot.”

“It’s a great opportunity to throw him out there and see what it looks like. It’s the only way we will find out,” he said.

Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal gave the team a bit of a scare when he was hit in the calf by a comebacker during the third inning. He remained in the game.

The Nationals loaded the bases with no outs in the inning, ultimately scoring two runs before Rosenthal struck out the final two batters.

Washington scored twice in the second off Cardinals starter Deck McGuire on an RBI single by Michael A. Taylor and groundout from Trea Turner.

Brandon Moss doubled and drove in a run for St. Louis.

STARTING TIME

Nationals: RHP Blake Treinen pitched two scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: Matheny said catcher Yadier Molina could be used as a defensive replacement in games as early as this week. Recovering from offseason thumb surgery, Molina could start swinging a bat soon, but he won’t be asked to hit in a game, yet.

CALL THE PLUMMER

St. Louis called up 2015 first-round draft choice Nick Plummer from its minor league pre-camp workout program and gave him the start in right field. Plummer hit .228 with eight stolen bases in 51 games at the rookie level Gulf Coast League last season. Hitting eighth on Sunday, Plummer went 0 for 1 with an RBI.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Tanner Roark is set to start Monday when Washington hosts the Marlins.

Cardinals: Ace Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut Monday, facing the New York Mets. That’ll put him on pace to start the season opener on April 3.

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