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Washington Nationals sweep three-game set in St. Louis with 6-1 win over Cardinals

Washington Nationals' right-hander Max Scherzer returned to form and the Nats' bats came to life in the sixth and seventh innings against St. Louis Cardinals' starter Carlos Martinez as the Nationals swept the three-game set in Busch Stadium with a 6-1 win.

Photo used with permission of rights holder.
Photo used with permission of rights holder.

With an opportunity to sweep the Cardinals in Busch Stadium for the first time in franchise history (2005-present), the Washington Nationals sent Max Scherzer to the mound this afternoon in the series finale in St. Louis.

Scherzer, 31, was looking to get it together after a few less-than-stellar outings in which he'd struggled with his fastball command, was hit hard, and had walked more batters than he was used to walking.

Scherzer was matched up against a tough opponent in 24-year-old Cards' righty Carlos Martinez, who started the day (4-0) after four starts with a 1.93 ERA, eight walks (2.57 BB/9), 20 Ks (6.43 K/9) and a .162/.231/.253 line against in 28 IP early this season.

Today, in his home state of Missouri (prounounced Mizz-oor-ah), the St. Louis-born, second-year Nationals' starter was back to his old self, striking out batters left and right and stomping around the mound as he completed seven scoreless on 105 pitches, striking out nine total and walking no one in a dominant outing.

Martinez limited the Nationals to one hit through five scoreless, but Jose Lobaton singled to left to start the sixth, took second base on a sac bunt by Scherzer and scored on an RBI single to center by Matt den Dekker, who made it 1-0 after five and a half.

Jayson Werth singled with one out in the seventh and scored the easy way when Clint Robinson hit a 96 mph first-pitch fastball to right for a two-run home run that made it 3-0 Nationals.

Danny Espinosa jumped on the next pitch and hit a solo shot of his own to put the Nationals up 4-0 on the Cardinals.

After Scherzer was done with seven scoreless, Nats' skipper Dusty Baker turned it over to the bullpen.

Max Scherzer's Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 Ks, 105 P, 73 S, 4/5 GO/FO.

Anthony Rendon doubled and scored in the Nationals' eighth when Daniel Murphy drove him in with a one-out, two-base hit to left field. 5-0.

Felipe Rivero retired the Cardinals in order in an 11-pitch eighth and the Nationals went up 6-0 when Chris Heisey hit a two-out solo blast to left-center.

Blake Treinen gave up a two-out solo blast by Brandon Moss (Dern lefties!) that made it 6-1, and Matt Adams singled with two down (Dern lefties!  but that was it. Nationals win. 6-1 final. Ballgame.

Nationals now 17-7

• NATS NOTES:

  • Even after Washington took the first two games of their three-game set in St. Louis, the Cardinals are still 24-8 all-time in Busch Stadium III, with wins in 20 of their last 25 games and streaks of eight and nine-straight wins in their home park over that stretch.
  • A win today would give the Nationals their first sweep as a franchise (2005-present) in Busch Stadium and their first sweep of a three-game set with the Cardinals since June of 2011 in Nationals Park. They'd already won the first series in St. Louis since May of 2007 with wins in the first two games.
  • Since 2005, the Cardinals hold a 43-29 advantage over the Nationals overall, though the Nats are 20-17 against the Cards in the nation's capital.
  • Washington's 16 wins in April matched an all-time franchise high.
  • The Cardinals start play today leading the majors in runs scored (142). The Nationals start the day leading the majors in team ERA (2.36) and opponents' slugging percentage (.315), with the fewest home runs allowed (14).
  • Washington's pitchers have the second-lowest opponents' batting average (.214) and third-lowest OBP (.280).
  • In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Nats' pitchers lead the majors in strikes outings with 82 Ks... since April 23rd.
  • Cards' catcher Yadier Molina started play today in the midst of an 18-game on-base streak, which stretched back to April 9th. Molina had an 11-game hit streak. Both streaks ended today.
  • Daniel Murphy hit safely in 19 of 22 games, with 11 multi-hit efforts and he'd reached base in 39 of his first 90 plate appearances with the Nationals before today. An RBI double in the 8th gave him hits in 20 of 23 games.

Nationals now 17-7