Mar 25, 2022; Jupiter, Florida, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Drew VerHagen (34) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Washington Nationals during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Drew VerHagen gave up a pair of solo home runs over three innings Friday afternoon. But he was otherwise stellar in his start against the Washington Nationals, a solid second step in his effort to make the Cardinals' season-opening roster and perhaps their rotation.

VerHagen got the win as St. Louis beat Washington 5-4 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, improving to a Grapefruit League-best 5-1.

VerHagen, who signed as a free agent with St. Louis after pitching the last two seasons in Japan, threw 36 pitches, 27 of which were strikes. Facing the Nationals' first 11 batters, he retired nine of them. It was his second appearance of the spring, and it was six up, six down against VerHagen in that one.

The right-hander now has a 3.60 ERA and four strikeouts over five innings in Grapefruit League play.

Washington got its other two runs in the seventh inning off Freddy Pacheco. The right-hander gave up a solo home run to Washington's Riley Adams, who had previously homered off VerHagen, and an RBI double by César Hernández, the other Nat who took VerHagen deep.

Génesis Cabrera, Ryan Helsley, Andre Pallante, James Naile and Jacob Bosiokovic each pitched a scoreless inning for St. Louis.

The St. Louis offense, meanwhile, collected six singles and three doubles. The Cardinals scored three runs in the second on an RBI single by Paul DeJong and a two-run double by Harrison Bader, then scored twice in the fifth on a wild pitch and a Paul Goldschmidt run-scoring single.

DeJong, Bader and Nolan Arenado each had a double and a single.

The Cardinals play again Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium, this time against the Miami Marlins. Coverage begins at noon CT on Bally Sports Midwest.