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The St. Louis Cardinals took an early lead over the Washington Nationals and never looked back, dominating the Nats on the way to an 8-0 win and a 2-1 series lead.
• 79 Years Later: Four F-16s flew over Nationals Park after the National Anthem. Former Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals' manager, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. For the first time in 79 years and on the 88th anniversary of the deciding game of the one and only World Series win in D.C. baseball history, postseason baseball returned to the nation's capital today. Game Three of the NLDS started just after 1:07 pm EDT with a Nationals Park record 45,017 fans in attendance.
The Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals split the first two games of the series in St. Louis. The Cardinals took an early lead in Game Three...
• Down Early: The Cards went up early when Matt Holliday and Allen Craig connected for back-to-back two-out hits off Nats' starter Edwin Jackson in the top of the first, with Craig's double bringing Holliday around from first to make 1-0 after a half. The Nationals made Cardinals' right-hander Chris Carpenter throw 25 pitches in a scoreless bottom of the first that ended with Michael Morse striking out to strand two. 1-0 Cards after one. E-Jax' recent bad luck against St. Louis continued in the second when David Freese doubled to start the inning, took third on a single by Daniel Descaslo and scored on Pete Kozma's first postseason home run, 4-0 St. Louis. Even the opposing pitcher got into the act, with Carpenter singling for the fourth-straight hit to start the inning. Jon Jay grounded into a 3-6-3 DP to take Carpenter of the basepaths and Carlos Beltran grounded to second to end the top of the frame, but the damage was done and the Nationals trailed by four after one and a half.
• Espilosion?: Before today's game, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters he expected to see a different Danny Espinosa in the nation's capital after a rough start to the series in St. Louis. The Nationals' second baseman was 1 for 6 with a walk and three Ks in the first two games of the series. He used his first AB of the day today to bunt Ian Desmond over after the Nationals' shortstop singled to start the Nats' second. Espinosa appeared to beat the throw to first, but a blown call by first base ump Jim Joyce [cue Galarraga replay] cost Washington an out. Two batters later Desmond was stranded at second after Kurt Suzuki grounded and Edwin Jackson popped out to end the frame.
The Cards got a leadoff single from Matt Holliday (2 for 2) in the top of the the third, but a swinging K from Allen Craig and a DP grounder off Yadier Molina's bat ended a relatively quick 12-pitch inning for Edwin Jackson that had the Nats' starter at 39 pitches overall after three. Ryan Zimmerman singled with two down in the Nats' third, but a fly to right-center by Adam LaRoche ended Chris Carpenter's third scoreless frame after 11 pitches with the veteran right-hander at 51 total.
• No.20: Edwin Jackson recorded two Ks in a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the fourth. Ian Desmond was 2 for 2 (and 6 for 10 in the series) after he doubled with one down in the Nationals' fourth. Two outs later, however, he was stranded at second following a fly to left from Danny Espinosa and a fly to center from Kurt Suzuki. Still 4-0 Cardinals. An eight pitch inning had the Cards' starter at 59 after 4.0 scoreless. St. Louis' 6'6'', 230 lb starter doubled off the left field wall to start the top of the fifth, missing a solo home run by a few feet. A sac bunt by Jon Jay moved Carpenter to third, and a walk to Carlos Beltran put runners on the corners. Ryan Zimmerman took the force at second on a grounder to third by Matt Holliday and E-Jax got Allen Craig swinging to keep it "close".
• Edwin Jackson's Line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 68 P, 41 S, 7/1 GO/FO.
• Rally?: Jayson Werth worked a one-out walk out of Carpenter in the home-half of the fifth. One out later the Nats' RF went first-to-third™ on a two-out single by Ryan Zimmerman that put runners on the corners for Adam LaRoche. LaRoche battled the Cards' starter for seven pitches before drawing a two-out base-loading walk in front of Michael Morse, whose fly to right ended Carpenter's fifth scoreless. Still 4-0 Cardinals.
• Eye Of The Tiger: Craig Stammen took over in the top of the fifth, hit the first batter he faced, Yadier Molina and gave up a double from the second batter to step in, David Freese. A sac fly by Daniel Descalso with runners on second and third brought the Cardinals' fifth run in, 5-0, and Werth's throw in got by home to let Freese take third. Stammen retired the next two batters without Freese scoring, but the Nationals trailed by five after five and a half. Ian Desmond was 3 for 3 (7 for 11) after he singled by short to start the bottom of the sixth on a 2-0 pitch from Carpenter. Two outs later he was still standing on first after Danny Espinosa K'd looking and Kurt Suzuki flew out. Steve Lombardozzi got a two-out pinch hit single to put two on for Jayson Werth. Carpenter's day ended after 5.2 IP in which he allowed seven hits. RHP Trevor Rosenthal took over with Werth up, and popped the Nats' outfielder up to strand two at the end of the sixth.
• Nail Meet Coffin: Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran singled off Christian Garcia in back-to-back ABs to start the Cardinals' seventh. Both runners moved up on a groundout by Matt Holliday. The Nats walked Allen Craig to load the bases in front of Yadier Molina. A walk to the Cards' catcher forced the sixth run in, 6-0 St. Louis. Garcia recovered to strike the next two Cards out, but the Nationals trailed by six after seven in Nationals Park. Bryce Harper got punched out on a close play at the bag on a grounder to first. Ryan Zimmerman K'd swinging. Adam LaRoche grounded back to the mound. 17-pitch, 1-2-3 inning for Trevor Rosenthal and his second scoreless frame in relief.
• "Insurance Runs": Jon Jay singled with one down and Carlos Beltran hit a two-out double into the right field bullpen on a bounce in the top of the seventh to put two on for Matt Holliday against Nats' right-hander Ryan Mattheus. Holliday's two-run single gave St. Louis an 8-0 lead after seven and a half. Cards' right-hander Fernando Salas threw a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, retiring Michael Morse, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa in order on 15 pitches.
• DRUUU: Drew Storen threw a scoreless, 11-pitch ninth for the Nats. Cards' reliever Joe Kelly came out for the bottom of the inning. Kurt Suzuki K'd swinging. Pinch hitter Chad Tracy grounded out to third. Jayson Werth... walked. Werth worked a two-out walk out of the Cards' reliever, but Bryce Harper's fly to right ended game three. Ballgame. Cards win, 8-0, take 2-1 series lead.
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• Doghouse's Post Game WPA Graph: COMING SOON!!!
St. Louis Cardinals now lead NLDS 2-1 over Washington Nationals