Michael Wacha, the St. Louis Cardinals' 2012 1st Round pick, held the Washington Nationals hitless through 8 2/3 in Busch Stadium last night before Ryan Zimmerman's infield single broke up the 22-year-old Cards' starter's no-hit bid. This afternoon, the NL Central-leading Cardinals sent another first-rounder out to the mound with Shelby Miller, 22, the 19th pick in 2009 taking on the Nats in the series and season finale between the two teams that met in last October's NLDS. St. Louis had won six straight going back to Game 5 of the Division series last Fall heading into today's game, having swept the series in D.C. this past April and taken the first two of three this week in the Cards' home.
Shelby Miller issued walks to two of the first three batters he faced in the opening frame, one to Denard Span, who worked his way around to third with one down and one to Jayson Werth that put runners on first and third for Bryce Harper. Cards' left fielder Matt Holliday made a sliding attempt to catch Harper's soft fly to left-center, but came up empty on what was ruled an RBI single that made it 1-0 Nationals after a half inning in St. Louis.
Jordan Zimmermann, 27, the Nationals' '07 2nd Round pick out of Auburndale, Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Stevens Point, took the mound for the 32nd time in 2013 in search of his 20th win of the season. If he could best the St. Louis Cardinals, Zimmermann would become the first right-hander from the nation's capital to win twenty games since Newport, Virginia-born right-hander Bob Porterfield, acquired by the Senators as one of three pitchers in a June 15, 1951 trade with New York that sent Bob Kuzava to the Yankees, went 22-10 for a 1953 Senators team that finished with a .500 record, 76-76, under the guidance of D.C. baseball legend Bucky Harris.
Zimmermann's day started with a 13-pitch 1-2-3 bottom of the first inning.
Miller's nine-pitch top of the second brought Zimmermann back out to the mound quickly. Zimmermann shook catcher Wilson Ramos off twice to get to a 1-2 change for Cards' first baseman Matt Adams, who rolled a broken bat grounder out to second. A 1-0 fastball to Yadier Molina got a weak grounder to short, but Ian Desmond sailed the throw to give the Cardinals' their first baserunner. Jon Jay was sawed off, but he managed to power a one-out single into left field. David Freese battled for six pitches, but hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3. 14-pitch second for the Nats' starter, 27 total after two.
After a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the third that had him up to 51 pitches, Shelby Miller had set eight straight Nationals' hitters down going back to Bryce Harper's one-out single in the top of the first. Daniel Descalso doubled to the right-center gap to start the bottom of the inning with the Cards' second hit off Jordan Zimmermann. Miller bunted Descalso over to third/gave up an out, and Matt Carpenter drove him in with a groundout to first that tied it at 1-1 after three innings in Busch Stadium. Zimmermann's 14-pitch third had him up to 41 pitches.
Adam LaRoche broke a streak of nine straight batters retired by Shelby Miller with a one-out single by a diving Matt Adams at first base, but the Cards' starter made it 9 of 10 set down when he struck Wilson Ramos out to end a 14-pitch fourth at 65 overall. Jordan Zimmermann hit Matt Holliday on the elbow with his 42nd pitch of the game. An opposite field double by a dirt-covered Matt Adams sent Holliday around to third with no one out and a two-run single to center by Cards' catcher Yadier Molina made it 3-1 St. Louis. Zimmermann's 15-pitch fourth had him up to 56 pitches overall.
Shelby Miller gave up a one-out single by the opposing pitcher, but completed a 12-pitch top of the fifth at 77 pitches, with the Cards' 3-1 lead in tact. Jordan Zimmermann got a high fly to center with a 2-2 fastball to Miller for the first out of the bottom of the inning. Matt Carpenter's groundout to second and Carlos Beltran's lineout to left ended a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 inning, after which Zimmermann was up to 68 pitches.
Jayson Werth started the Nationals' sixth with a line drive single to right field, but three pitches, a Bryce Harper fly to left and an Ian Desmond grounder to second that started a 6-4-3 DP later, Shelby Miller had a four-pitch top of the sixth that left him at 81 pitches overall after six innings in St. Louis. WIth one down in the Cards' sixth, Jordan Zimmermann left a 1-2 fastball up inside for Matt Adams, whose 17th HR of 2013 sailed into the right field bullpen for a solo blast and a 4-1 Cardinals' lead after six. 18-pitch inning for Zimmermann, 86 total after six.
Adam LaRoche walked to start the seventh and end Shelby Miller's outing. Seth Maness got a 5-4-3 DP with the second pitch he threw to Wilson Ramos and an inning-ending groundout to short from Steve Lombardozzi with the fourth. 4-1 Cardinals after six and a half. Jordan Zimmermann came back out for the seventh and threw an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 inning that left him at 94 pitches overall.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 64 S, 9/5 GO/FO.
Davey Johnson burned a pinch hitter to get a right-hander up against Cards' lefty Kevin Siegrist after Mike Matheny went to the pen when Chad Tracy was announced. Scott Hairston took over at the plate, but popped out to second to start the eighth. Denard Span singled with one down prompting another pitching change. Carlos Martinez got a grounder to second from Ryan Zimmerman for out no.2, and struck Jayson Werth out to end the top of the eighth. Still 4-1 Cardinals. Craig Stammen got three quick outs in the bottom of the eighth with some help from two strong defensive plays by Steve Lombardozzi.
Trevor Rosenthal came on in the ninth and retired the Nationals in order to complete the Cardinals' sweep of the season series with the Nationals. 6-0 in 2013. 7-0 when Game 5 of the NLDS is included. 4-1 final.
Nationals now 84-74