JUPITER, Fla. -- The Nationals had their worst pitched game of the preseason on Saturday afternoon as they lost to the Cardinals, 9-2, at Roger Dean Stadium.

Nationals pitchers walked eight batters, and five of them scored. Right-hander Daniel Cabrera and left-hander Michael Hinckley were the only pitchers who didn't walk a batter in the game.

In his first start of the exhibition season, Cabrera allowed an earned run in two innings. He threw 34 pitches, 22 of which were for strikes. He got off to a slow start in the first inning by giving up three consecutive hits to Skip Shumaker, Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols, who drove in the game's first run.

Cabrera would get out of the inning without further damage, but he would give up an unearned in the next frame. He would then get two quick outs. But after Joe Mather reached on an error by third baseman Kory Casto, Jon Jay drove in Mather with a triple.

Washington manager Manny Acta felt Cabrera had a good outing because he had good control of his pitches. Cabrera has had control issues since he entered the big leagues in 2004. He has averaged more than 95 walks per season.

"He was aggressive. He threw strikes," Acta said. "He was able to get out of [jams] with the help of our defense. He actually threw seven out of 10 first-pitch strikes. The knock on him are the walks. He probably had the best control of all the guys we threw out there today. We like what we saw."

Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler made his first appearance of the spring, and it was an outing he would like to forget. He didn't retire a batter, giving up three runs on one hit. He also walked four batters.

After Detwiler walked his second batter of the game, Acta knew the left-hander was in trouble.

"He was aiming the ball instead of just throwing the ball and make adjustments," Acta said. "After walking the second batter, we could tell he was really trying to throw strikes instead of making adjustments on what he was doing."

Detwiler, the team's first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was clearly upset about his outing.

"It's the first time out. You have to hit rock bottom before you go up," Detwiler said. "When stuff starts to go wrong, you try a little too hard to correct it, tighten up a little more. As it showed today, it doesn't help at all. You actually make it worse."