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Washington Nationals drop series finale to St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1: Mike Leake dominates Nats

Washington had a chance to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals this afternoon, but the Nationals dropped the series finale in the nation’s capital, 6-1.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals
[whispers]: “This Leake guy is pretty good.” — [ed. note - “Not an actual quote.”]
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer threw more wild pitches in the first three innings this afternoon (3) than he did in 228 13 innings pitched last season (2).

It might have been the shadows affecting the Washington Nationals’ catcher Matt Wieters, and the same shadows might have helped St. Louis Cardinals’ starter Mike Leake, who tossed seven scoreless on 104 pitches, retiring 19-straight between the first and seventh innings.

In danger of getting swept in the three-game set in the nation’s capital, the Cardinals jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after five and held on for a sweep-avoiding, 6-1 win.

Nationals now 5-4

Here’s how it happened:

Max Scherzer struck the first two batters he faced out with sliders, but walked Matt Carpenter with two down and gave up the first run of the game on a 3-2 fastball that Stephen Piscotty lined to center for an RBI double. 1-0 StL.

Adam Eaton (double) and Anthony Rendon (single) connected for back-to-back hits to start the Nats’ half of the first, but Rendon got picked off first base with Bryce Harper at the plate, Harper K’d swinging and Daniel Murphy sent an inning-ending grounder to the mound.

Max Scherzer threw two wild pitches in 228 13 innings pitched last season. Scherzer threw three wild pitches in the first three innings today in Nationals Park, two in one at bat against Greg Garcia in the third.

An error by Wilmer Difo at short, hit-by-pitch on Dexter Fowler’s cleat and a walk to Greg Garcia loaded the bases with one out in the Cardinals’ fifth.

One run scored on a pop to foul territory off third by Matt Carpenter, 2-0, and Stephen Piscotty hit a two-out single to left-center field to put the Cardinals up 3-0 after five.

Mike Leake was up to 14-straight batters set down, following the back-to-back hits in the first, after he set the Nationals down in order in the fifth.

Scherzer struck out two and retired the Cardinals in order in the sixth, finishing his outings after 104 pitches, with 10 Ks on the day.

• Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 104 P, 69 S, 3/4 GO/FO.

Leake was up to 17-straight Nationals set down after a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth.

Enny Romero worked around a HBP (97 in the back on Greg Garcia) and an E (on a wild pickoff throw) for a scoreless seventh inning.

Leake’s streak of consecutive outs ended at 19 when Daniel Murphy singled to right (to extend his hit streak to 9-straight games) and Ryan Zimmerman followed with a line drive single to left, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Jayson Werth, who K’d looking at a 2-2 fastball outside to end the threat. Still 3-0 Cards.

• Mike Leake’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 104 P, 65 S, 9/3 GO/FO.

Shawn Kelley gave up a one-out single in the eighth, but dialed up a double play on a grounder to short by Jedd Gyorko, only to have Anthony Rendon sail the throw toward second.

The second of the game for the Nationals put runners on first and third with one out.

Kelley worked his way out of the jam, popping up Kolten Wong and striking out Eric Fryer.

Trevor Rosenthal took over for the Cardinals in the eighth and gave up back-to-back-to-back, one-out hits by Wilmer Difo, pinch hitter Adam Lind and Adam Eaton, whose RBI liner to left brought Difo around, 3-1.

Matt Bowman took over with two runners on and one out and got a force at second for out No. 2, but Anthony Rendon beat the relay throw to first base, putting runners on first and third for Bryce Harper.

Brett Cecil came on for the lefty vs lefty battle and went to a full count with Harper, who lined out sharply to third to end the threat.

• Koda Glover gave up a single and recorded an out. Sammy Solis recorded an out and gave up a walk. Joe Blanton came on and gave up a three-run home run to left-center by Stephen Piscotty, 6-1 Cards. Ballgame.

Nationals now 5-4


  • Washington swept 10 series last season, five at home in Nationals Park, but they lost the finale to the Miami Marlins last week in their first opportunity for a series sweep this season.
  • Over the last season-plus (going back to the start of the 2016 campaign), Washington had won seven of their nine against St. Louis going into today’s game, though the Cardinals hold a 45-34 lead in the all-time series between the two teams (2005-present).
  • Daniel Murphy started the day with an eight-game hitting streak (in the Nats’ first eight games), and he has multi-hit games in 6 of 8 after collecting 56 multi-hit games last season, 5th most in the National League.
  • Murphy extended his hit streak to 9-straight games with a single in the seventh.
  • Cards’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz is 40-107 (.374 AVG) in April over the last two seasons, the second-best average in baseball (minimum 100 PAs), behind only the Nats’ Daniel Murphy (.402 AVG) over that stretch.
  • Bryce Harper matched a career-high after taking three walks in his first three plate appearances last night, having reached base in nine-straight plate appearances at that point.
  • On this day in 2009, Ryan Zimmerman connected for his 500th major league hit, in his fourth major league season.
  • Max Scherzer, a St. Louis, MO native, started the day (1-3) in six career starts against the Cardinals.

Nationals now 5-4