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Nats Nightly: Nationals sweep Cardinals in three-game set in Busch Stadium

Washington slugger Bryce Harper went 0-for-St. Louis, but the Dusty Baker-led Nationals still managed to take three straight from the Cardinals this weekend in Busch Stadium, beating Carlos Martinez this afternoon for the third win.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals managed to hold Bryce Harper hitless throughout the Washington Nationals' three-game visit to Busch Stadium, but they still dropped three straight to the Nats this weekend.

Harper, who has carried Washington's offense at times early this season, finished the series in St. Louis in the midst of an 0 for 14 slump after going 0 for 4 with 4 Ks in the series finale on Sunday, and he's now just 1 for 17 in his last five games.

Dusty Baker was asked what it told him about the Nationals' offense that they stepped up without Harper's help after they took three straight from the Cardinals for the first sweep in Nats' history in Busch Stadium (2005-present).

"That tells me that somebody is in trouble," Baker said. "Somebody is in trouble because Bryce ain't going hitless for too long a period of time."

But without Harper's bat, the Nats still beat the scuffling Cardinals in three straight games.

"Whenever you can do that without your star having a good series then -- we picked him up, like he's picked us up many times, and so he's going to have plenty of opportunities to pick us up too."

Cards' starter Carlos Martinez held the Nationals scoreless through five innings, but things fell apart fairly quickly after that for the 24-year-old right-hander.

Nats' catcher Jose Lobaton singled to start the fifth, moved up on a sac bunt and scored on a Matt den Dekker single, which was the Nationals' third hit of the game to that point.

Jayson Werth singled to start the seventh and two pitches later, the Cardinals were behind 4-0 after Clint Robinson and Danny Espinosa homered on consecutive offerings.

Did the Nationals' hitters discover something about Martinez that led them to attack first pitches and allowed them to get to the right-hander after he dominated over the first five innings?

"In a situation like that," Baker said, "everybody gets on guys for swinging at the first pitch if you make an out, but they don't say anything if you hit the first pitch and hit a home run or whatever and like I said, most of the time -- not all the time, but all you can do is play the percentages -- the best pitch to hit, especially with runners in scoring position is going to be the first pitch, because the pitcher is going to try to get ahead of you and then he's going to go to work on you.

"And so you've got to get to work on him before they get to work on you."

The Nationals got to Martinez and took their third straight from the Cardinals, improving to 17-7 on the year with the win.

Up next, a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals.

We talked about the Nationals' big weekend, Bryce Harper's "struggles" and Max Scherzer's big start in St. Louis on Nats Nightly after the game: