St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright gave up four runs, including a solo homer by Giancarlo Stanton, in 3 2-3 innings Thursday before a rain delay ended his outing in a 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.
Wainwright gave up six hits in his second spring start and struggled with his fastball.
After rain held up play for 55 minutes, Wainwright went to the indoor batting cages for more work. Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist noticed a flaw in Wainwright's mechanics.
''It's the best I felt all spring,'' said Wainwright, whose spring progression was slowed by an early abdominal strain. ''I know it's not against hitters, but it translates for me.''
Wainwright threw 65 pitches on the field and an estimated 25 more in the cage.
''I went from being kind of frustrated with the way I pitched and then I left that cage thinking I'm ready for next time,'' Wainwright said.
Jason Heyward hit his first home run with St. Louis.
Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez allowed two runs and four hits in three innings.
Wainwright walked one batter and hit another as part of a two-run third inning. Christian Yelich singled home Alvarez in the fourth on the last pitch Wainwright threw.
Cardinals: Manager Mike Matheny has yet to officially announce Wainwright as the opening day starter, but everything is falling into place for that to happen.
''I think the first day we were talking about how to make it work so that Adam could throw then, but if we have any kind of hiccup we've got other guys that, because of some of the extra rest with the off days, we'd be covered,'' Matheny said.
Marlins: Miami scratched Jarred Cosart from Friday's scheduled start because of a blister on his middle finger. Instead, the Marlins will give the ball to Brad Hand, who will likely begin the season in Miami's bullpen.
''It's nice to have that strength and depth guys that can not only pitch out of the bullpen but also be starters for us,'' manager Mike Redmond said.
Matheny said he wasn't worried that Heyward didn't have an extra-base hit prior to his first-inning homer, saying he'd seen enough line drives and balls hit barely foul to believe those hits are coming.
''Hopefully he's not going to start trying to do too much because of all the talk, but I'm not concerned about it at all,'' Matheny said.
KOZ AND EFFECT
Light-hitting Cardinals utility infielder Pete Kozma led all National League batters this spring going into the game, then went 1 for 2 to raise his average to .455.
Cardinals: Split-squad games on Friday. John Lackey will face Matt Harvey and the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium while the Carlos Martinez-led squad will head to Viera to face Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals.
Miami expects to face Dallas Keuchel when it travels to play Houston.
Link to box score: Miami 5 at St. Louis (10-8-1) 3