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Nationals drop 8-5 decision to Cardinals on walk-off homer by Brandon Moss

The Washington Nationals took a 5-3 lead into the eighth, but the St. Louis Cardinals rallied to tie it at 5-5... before Brandon Moss hit a walk-off home run to center for the walk-off winner. 8-5 final.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

5. Ross in St. Louis: In his last thirteen innings on the mound, in back-to-back wins over the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals' right-hander Joe Ross allowed seven hits total and two runs, one earned, while walking two and striking out eleven.

Last time out, in a 4-2 win over the Padres in the nation's capital, Ross gave up just one hit, a bunt that Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos fielded and threw away, putting a runner on third with no one out before a sac fly brought him in.

"Good sliders. Good sliders with two strikes down and away looking like it's a strike and tailing back off the plate. -Matt Williams on Joe Ross vs the Padres last time out

Nationals' skipper Matt Williams was asked after the start, if he would have let Ross go longer if he hadn't given up the one hit, since 22-year-old starter is approaching his inning/pitch limit this season.

"Of course, you've got to give him a chance to do something special," Williams said.

"But it is what it is. The fact that we added one and we got two in that inning and we could get him out of there after the sixth, it was good for him. It'll just help him stretch through his next starts."

Asked if Ross was close to the as-yet undisclosed limit, Williams was non-commital.

"We'll see. Tonight's an indication that he's still feeling okay. What did have [77] pitches tonight?

"So if we can limit that and get ourselves into a position to win ballgames, then we want to try to do that. Again, each game will dictate what we can and can't do."

Tonight in St. Louis, the rookie starter was taking on the Cardinals for the first time. He took the mound (5-5) on the year after 11 starts, with a 3.24 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 11 walks (1.49 BB/9) and 65 Ks (8.78 K/9) in 66 ⅔ innings pitched in which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .221/.262/.361 line.

His twelfth start in the majors began with a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 first.

Yadier Molina took a one-out walk in the bottom of the second and one out later Mark Reynolds walked to put two on with two out in front of Brandon Moss, who took a 3-2 slider for a called strike three. 21-pitch frame, 36 total after two.

Given a 4-0 lead to work with, Ross issued a one-out walk to Matt Carpenter in the Cardinals third. Carpenter took third on a groundout and scored on an RBI single by Jhonny Peralta, 4-1.

Jason Heyward's two-out walk was the fourth free pass from Ross, who put Yadier Molina on two to load them up with two down. Kolten Wong stepped in next and took the third straight walk. 4-2 Nationals. That was it for Ross.

• Joe Ross' Line: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 3 Ks, 68 P, 29 S, 2/0 GO/FO.

4. Marco Gonzales vs D.C.: The St. Louis Cardinals made the decision to go with 23-year-old left-hander Marco Gonzales instead of scheduled starter Carlos Martinez, because Martinez experienced what Cards' skipper Mike Matheny said was "minor back stiffness."

Gonzales, a 2013 1st Round pick out of Gonzaga University, was a candidate for the Cardinals' rotation this Spring, but he started the season at Triple-A Memphis, where he "encountered pectoral and shoulder troubles," as St. Louis Today's Rick Hummel wrote in an article on Gonzales getting the start tonight.

Though he pitched at three levels in the Cards' system, Gonzales made 13 of 17 appearances and 12 of his 16 starts at Triple-A, going (1-4) with a 5.20 ERA, 5.09 FIP, 22 walks (3.09 BB/9) and 45 Ks (6.33 K/9) in 64 IP before he was brought up.

Gonzales debuted in the majors in 2014, going (4-2) in 10 games, five starts and 34 ⅔ innings pitched, over which he put up a 4.15 ERA, a 4.75 FIP, 21 walks (5.45 BB/9) and 31 Ks (8.05 K/9) while holding opposing hitters to a .272/.380/.398 line in 25 ⅔ innings pitched as a starter.

His first start for the Cardinals this season began with a scoreless, 11-pitch frame in which he worked around Bryce Harper with two down and got an inning-ending groundout from Ryan Zimmerman.

Wilson Ramos lined a two-out single to left in the Nationals' second, but he was forced out at second on a grounder to short off Michael Taylor's bat. 19-pitch frame, 30 total for Gonzales after two.

Joe Ross singled to right field to start the top of the third inning and took second base on a single to left by Jayson Werth before Anthony Rendon doubled to right to drive them both in. 2-0.

Rendon took third on the throw home and scored on a sac fly to center by Bryce Harper to make it 3-0 before Ryan Zimmerman stepped in and crushed a first-pitch sinker, hitting a solo shot to center to make it 4-0 Nats.

Wilson Ramos singled with two down to send Ian Desmond around to third and end Marcos Gonzales' night.

• Marco Gonzales' Line: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 66 P, 44 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: With last night's loss the Nationals are 7-16 against the Cardinals since 2012, and 0-8 in the last eight games in Busch Stadium.

• For today's Nationals-themed edition of "Fun with Arbitrary End Points": Jayson Werth is 15 for 45 (.341/.431/.659) with six doubles, a triple, two home runs and seven walks in 11 games as the Nats' leadoff man.

• Your daily Ian Desmond update: In his last 39 games, going back to July 20th, Ian Desmond has hit five doubles, a triple and 10 home runs with 15 walks, seven stolen bases and a .312/.378/.574 line over that stretch.

• Bryce Harper extended his on-base streak to 12-straight games last night, with hits in 10 of 12, over which he's 15 for 42 with five doubles, a home run and 10 walks. A walk in the first game him a 13-game streak.

• Anthony Rendon extended his hit streak to nine straight games last night and Wilson Ramos, who had the night off, starts tonight's game with an eight-game hit streak. A two-run double in the third gave Rendon a 10-game hit streak and a single by Ramos gave him nine.

• With last night's win, the Cardinals improved to 23-5 against the Nationals in Busch Stadium III, where they've won eight straight and 19 of their last 21.

• The Cards are 3-1 against the Nationals overall this season.

• Marco Gonzales has thrown 90+ pitches in each of his last four starts in the minors. His last MLB outing was in Game 4 of the NLCS against San Francisco last October.

2. Turning Point(s): Cards' starter Marco Gonzales started the night with two scoreless frames, but the Nationals put together a big inning in the third with six hits and four runs before the left-hander was replaced on the mound.

Anthony Rendon drove in two runs with a double and scored on a sac fly by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo shot to center to put Washington up 4-0 after two and half in the second game of three in Busch Stadium.

• Nationals' right-hander Joe Ross, who went 47 innings before issuing his sixth walk in the majors, walked six in 2 ⅔ tonight in St. Louis, four of them in the third as the Cardinals rallied to score three runs, one on an RBI single by Jhonny Peralta, one on a bases-loaded walk by Ross and one more on a bases-loaded HBP by Doug Fister after he took over on the mound. 4-3 Nationals.

1. The Wrap-Up: Carlos Villanueva came on to get the third out of the Nationals' third.

Doug Fister inherited a bases loaded, two-out jam and hit the first batter he faced, Mark Reynolds, forcing in a run, 4-3 Nationals.

Villanueva retired the Nationals in order in the top of the fourth.

Stephen Piscotty singled to center off Fister with two down in the bottom of the fourth, but Jhonny Peralta sent a fly to center to end a 13-pitch frame.

Bryce Harper doubled to right to start the fifth, collecting his 31st two-base hit of the season, but he was stranded at second three outs later as Villanueva completed a 14-pitch fifth.

Fister gave up a two-out double to left by Kolten Wong, who just beat the throw in to second. Tommy Pham came on as a pinch hitter and grounded out to the mound. 13-pitch frame.

Villanueva threw a 1-2-3 top of the sixth to keep it close. Still 4-3 Nationals.

Matt Thornton took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the sixth and gave up a leadoff double to center by Brandon Moss, who bounced one off the top of the outfield wall.

Villanueva dropped a bunt in front of home, and Wilson Ramos made an aggressive attempt to cut down the lead runner, but bounced a throw Yunel Escobar couldn't pick. First and third, no one out.

Matt Carpenter sent a soft liner to second that a leaping Anthony Rendon caught.

Blake Treinen came on to face Stephen Piscotty, who reached base on a swinging bunt when Treinen's throw to first pulled Ryan Zimmerman off the bag. Jhonny Peralta stepped in next, and grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3.

Jayson Werth singled to center off Seth Maness to start the seventh, but was forced out at second on a grounder to third off Anthony Rendon's bat. Bryce Harper reached base on an infield single and went awkwardly into first.

Ryan Zimmerman stepped in with two on and one out and sent a weak grounder to first that Matt Carpenter bobbled. Bases loaded, one out and Yunel Escobar hit a grounder to short to bring in a run, 5-3 Nationals after six and a half.

Felipe Rivero threw a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh.

With the score still 5-3, Drew Storen came out for the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to center by Tommy Pham.

Brandon Moss took a 1-2 slider off the foot. Two on, no one out. Greg Garcia stepped in next and bunted toward the mound, but Storen went to third and threw it by the bag. Stephen Piscotty grounded into a 6-3 DP, but the tying run scored. 5-5.

Mitch Harris came back out for a second inning of work after a scoreless seventh and walked Bryce Harper with one down. Harper took second on a groundout and third on an infield single by Yunel Escobar, but both runners were stranded. Still 5-5.

Casey Janssen gave up a two-out double to left by pinch hitter Cody Stanley. Tommy Pham stepped in with a runner in scoring position and walked. Brandon Moss? Walk-off home run. 8-5 Cardinals.

Nationals now 66-65