VIERA, Fla. -- On Thursday and Friday, Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had a bad case of the flu. Although he was better on Saturday, the club gave Zimmermann until noon to bow out of his fifth spring start.

Zimmermann declined the offer, however, and ended up having his worst outing of Spring Training, giving up five runs in two innings of a 12-11 loss to the Cardinals. It marked the first time Zimmermann was scored upon in Grapefruit League action. He had thrown 12 1/3 scoreless innings before Saturday's game.

Zimmermann, 22, refused to use his illness as an excuse after his poor outing.

"I felt fine," Zimmermann said. "I'm not going to have an excuse because I had the flu or whatever. You still have to go out there and battle. I told [pitching coach Randy] St. Claire I was ready to go. No excuse today. I just had a bad day."

Zimmermann's outing was bad from the start. In the first inning, he gave up an RBI single to Chris Duncan and a two-run double to Ryan Ludwick. In the next frame, Albert Pujols drove in two more runs with a double.

Manager Manny Acta pointed out that strong winds could have been a factor as well.

"It was a tough day to be pitching. If you weren't missing bats, that wind was going to get you sooner or later," Acta said. "The kid is human, but he battled out there for two innings. He is a warrior. He didn't back down. He felt good enough. He still had pretty good stuff. He was throwing 92, 93 miles per hour. He just didn't make his pitches. That wind was really a factor today.

"He didn't make excuses. That was the best thing out of this. He had a built-in excuse, and he didn't even use it."