Matt Carpenter was 0 for 4 when he stepped to the plate in the ninth and in danger of having a seven-game hit streak end in the St. Louis Cardinals' series opener in Washington.
With a 1-0 lead to protect, Nationals' closer Drew Storen started him off with an 86 mph change outside that caught the corner (according to home plate ump Adrian Johnson), threw a slider in that was called a ball, then geeked up for a 94 mph fastball up high outside that got a swinging strike.
A 1-2 slider, knee-high outside got too much of the plate though, and Carpenter lined it to center for a leadoff single, extending his current hit streak to eight straight games, over which the reigning NL Player of the Week went 15 for 35 with seven doubles and two home runs.
Storen painted the low outside corner with a 94 mph fastball to get ahead of Jason Heyward, 0-1, in the next at bat, but yanked the next pitch, bouncing a slider by Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos that allowed Carpenter to move up 90 feet.
Heyward ended up striking out on a 1-2 slider that Storen bounced, and it too got by Ramos, allowing Carpenter to take third.
The Nats' infield was drawn in against Matt Holliday, but the veteran outfielder connected for his fourth hit on the night, (4 for 4, BB), taking a 2-2 change to left for a game-tying single, 1-1.
"I think that Carpenter hit a breaking ball," Nationals' manager Matt Williams said after the game. "Holliday hit a changeup, I think. And I don't know if [Storen] was as sharp as he wanted to be. Throwing strikes, but not necessarily where he wanted to. Pulled a couple of breaking balls in the dirt. So all in all not as sharp as he would like to be. Happens sometimes though, so we have to regroup and go get them again. It turned out our way tonight."
It "turned out" the Nationals' "way" after a strike'em out, throw'em out double play got Storen out of a 20-pitch inning in which he blew his first save in five opportunities this season.
The fact that it came against the Cardinals, who, you might remember, rallied against Storen in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS, made for some narrative-driven hand-wringing, but Williams said after Yunel Escobar's walk-off homer gave the Nationals the win, that he isn't concerned about Storen and will turn to him again if the opportunity arises tonight.
"He just wasn't as sharp as he'd want to be," Williams repeated. "But the good thing is he got out of it fairly quickly and he's available tomorrow and if we get in the same situation he'll be in there again.
"He's got the ability to get outs. It didn't work for him tonight, but he'll put this one behind him and look to tomorrow. As we all will. We won the game, but it doesn't get any easier from here, so we have to be ready tomorrow too."