The Cardinals and Nationals met in St. Louis this weekend to play a three-game set.
Game One: Nationals 5, Cardinals 4 — WP: Stephen Strasburg (4-0) LP: Mike Leake (0-3) SV: Jonathan Papelbon (8)
Backed by a pair of timely home runs and a strong outing from Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals took the first game of the series.
On Mike Leake’s third pitch of the evening for the Cardinals, leadoff hitter Michael Taylor hit his third home run of the year and gave the Nats an early lead. The Cardinals’ answered in their half of the frame with two runs on RBI hits from Matt Holliday and Matt Adams to take an early lead of their own.
Washington put up a crooked number in the fourth by knocking Leake around for four runs. Anthony Rendon singled and attempted to steal second base with Ryan Zimmerman batting. Rendon was originally called out, but the call was overturned after Nationals manager Dusty Baker challenged it. Zimmerman walked, and the overturned call proved to be a big one, as Daniel Murphy singled to plate Rendon and move Zimmerman to third. Jayson Werth hit a sacrifice fly to score Zimmerman, and Danny Espinosa followed with a two-run homer, the fourth Leake has allowed this season. With a three-run lead now to his credit, Strasburg went to work.
Strasburg held St. Louis at bay for seven innings, striking out nine batters. Strasburg allowed eight hits in his outing — four in the first — but the Cardinals could not string any together.
Blake Treinen pitched the eighth inning for Washington and allowed a two-run homer to Matt Adams, his second and third RBIs of the night to draw the Cardinals closer in the run column, 5-4.
Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon was called upon to pitch the bottom of the ninth and surrendered a walk, but a double-play erased it. He successfully recorded the final out for his eighth save and ended the Nationals’ three-game losing streak.
-With his seven-inning performance on Friday, Stephen Strasburg has gone at least six innings in each of his five starts and has went seven or more in his last four.
Game Two: Nationals 6, Cardinals 1 — WP: Joe Ross (3-0) LP: Jaime Garcia (1-2)
Another strong pitching performance from their starting pitcher powered the Nationals to a victory on Saturday and their first series win at Busch Stadium in quite some time.
The Nationals put a four in the run column in the first inning against Jaime Garcia, taking advantage of a walk and a throwing error. With Anthony Rendon on and two outs, Ryan Zimmerman walked. Daniel Murphy singled up the middle following the walk, scoring Rendon. Cardinals center fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker threw the ball wide of home plate after fielding Murphy’s base hit and was charged with an error, allowing Murphy to take second, though the base he was on ultimately wouldn’t matter — Jayson Werth homered next to give Washington a 4-0 lead.
Much like Stephen Strasburg the night before, Joe Ross gave the Nationals a dazzling outing. Ross cruised along until the fifth inning when the Cardinals put runners at second and third with one out. Matt Carpenter hit a ball deep enough to score the runner at third and put up the first run of the day for St. Louis, but it would be the only run he would allow in his six innings of work.
The Nationals put up a couple of insurance runs in the top of the eighth off of Jonathan Broxton, making the most of a walk to Bryce Harper and Zimmerman hit by pitch. Murphy singled to score Harper and move Zimmerman to third. Werth hit a sacrifice fly to score Zimmerman and put the Nationals up by five runs, 6-1.
Felipe Rivero pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the Nationals, and Shawn Kelley did the same in the ninth to secure a victory for Washington.
-With wins in the first two games in the series, the Nationals won their first series in St. Louis since May of 2007.
Game Three: Nationals 6, Cardinals 1 — WP: Max Scherzer (3-1) WP: Carlos Martinez (4-1)
For the third game in a row, the Nationals were backed by a strong start from their starting pitcher and the long ball, three on Sunday, to sweep the Cardinals in the three-game series.
Sunday featured Carlos Martinez for the Cardinals, and Max Scherzer for the Nationals. In fact, there were only a combined four hits through the first five innings of the game, all singles. In the same stretch, the two right-handed pitchers struck out twelve batters.
The Nationals — who collected just one of those four hits — put up a run in the sixth after Scherzer sacrificed Jose Lobaton to second, who scored on a singled from Matt den Dekker.
Washington put up three runs in the seventh, the first two on a homer off the bat of Clint Robinson. The third run, Danny Espinosa’s second homer of the year, came on the first pitch following the two-run blast and ended Martinez’s outing.
With a four-run lead to his credit, Scherzer completed seven innings, allowing four hits and striking out nine. Felipe Rivero pitched a scoreless eighth for the Nats. Blake Treinen pitched the ninth inning and surrendered a home run to Brandon Moss, his sixth of the season.
-Winners of all three games over the weekend, the Nationals are the first visiting team to complete a series sweep at Busch Stadium in nearly three years.
Nationals: The Nationals will travel west of St. Louis to take on the defending World Series-champion Kansas City Royals.
Cardinals: The Cardinals will host a four-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies this week. The Phillies are winners of their last six games.