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Washington Nationals’ lineup for series finale with the St. Louis Cardinals on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball...

Washington’s Nationals try to salvage the finale of their three-game set in St. Louis with Max Scherzer on the mound vs the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez at 8:05 PM EDT.

MLB: Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

In the series opener in Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Cardinals’ starter Mike Leake, who tossed seven scoreless innings against the Nationals in Washington, D.C. in April, held the Nationals to one run on five hits in eight innings.

Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker talked after the game about what Leake did to keep the Nats in check.

“He changes speeds, keeps the ball down, and they got eight outs on four pitches,” Baker explained.

“He was throwing the double play ball, and that’s what happens when you keep the ball down and moving. He was sinking some, throwing some changeups and throwing some cutters and that’s what made him tough.”

Leake snapped a six-start winless streak on Friday, and improved to (6-6) on the season, something Baker has noted before he sees as a powerful motivator.

“I always say that I hate to face a pitcher that’s one game under .500 cause they seem like they always pitch their best [game] to get back to .500,” he said.

“And so, he was tough tonight and he was tough the last time we saw him. Evidently he’s been tough on a lot people, just not getting the wins, because his ERA is right at 3.00, probably under 3.00 now. So, he’s a good pitcher, I had him, and he knows how to pitch.”

Last night, it was Michael Wacha on the mound for the Cards, who extended a personal unbeaten streak to six straight starts and lowered his career ERA against the Nats to 1.30 in five starts and 34 23 IP with six scoreless on the mound in which he walked one and struck one nine.

“Wacha was good and he was very good,” Baker said after the game, as quoted by AP writer Nate Lasch.

“It was a well-pitched ballgame. … They kept us in the ballpark the last couple days which is hard to do, and we’re due to erupt before we leave from here.”

It’s not going to get any easier tonight, when the Nationals, with Max Scherzer on the mound, take on Cardinals’ right-hander Carlos Martinez, who started the season (0-3) in his first five starts and is (6-3) in his last 12, with a 2.20 ERA, 24 walks (2.78 BB/9), 82 Ks (9.50 K/9) and a .179/.247/.295 line against in 77 23 IP over that stretch.