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Washington Nationals’ Joe Ross hit hard in 12-5 loss to St. Louis Cardinals...

After tossing 11.0 scoreless in his first two starts, Joe Ross gave up 10 ER in 4 1⁄3 IP tonight in Nationals Park...

St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Joe Ross tossed 11.0 scoreless innings in his first two starts this season, but blew up tonight in the series opener with the St. Louis Cardinals in Nationals Park, giving up nine hits and 10 runs, all earned, in just 4 13 IP as the Washington Nationals dropped a 12-5 decision. Ross’s struggles started early on a home run in the second, and he gave up four total on the night, including a grand slam by Paul DeJong, whose second of the game off Ross put the visiting team up by eight in the fifth...

Ross vs the Cards again: In his second scoreless outing to start the season, Joe Ross tossed six scoreless innings in St. Louis last week, holding the Cardinals to four hits and one walk in an 89-pitch effort on the mound in Busch Stadium.

“Kid didn’t pitch all last year, and he looked awesome today,” manager Davey Martinez said after the Nationals’ 6-0 win over the Cards.

“Right now he’s doing well. And we knew this. When I saw Joe pre-Tommy John, I always thought he’s going to have a pretty good future. He got hurt, and now he gets an opportunity, he feels better, he feels healthy, he gets an opportunity to go out there and pitch, and I think he’s grown over the last year and a half of what he wants to do and how he wants to approach pitching and his routine. With that being said, I think he’s going to be a huge addition to our starting rotation, especially in that four or five slot.”

Going up against the Cardinals for the second time in a week today, Ross took the mound with a streak of eleven straight scoreless innings to start the season, and struck out two batters in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 first, but the streak ended with two out in the second on a fly to left field off Paul DeJong’s bat that hit the foul pole and fell into the stands for a solo shot and a 1-0 Cards’ lead.

It was 3-0 in the third after Tommy Edman got the green light and crushed a 3-0 sinker from Ross, sending a two-run shot to left-center field. Paul Goldschmidt followed one batter later with the third home run of the game, crushing a 1-2 changeup that reached the visitor’s ‘pen in left-center for a 4-0 lead.

A hit-by-pitch, walk, and RBI single started the Cards’ fourth, with Dylan Carlson hit and Paul DeJong put on, before Matt Carpenter drove in the visiting team’s fifth run of the game, 5-0, though he was thrown out at second trying to take an extra base on the hit. With runners on first and third and one out, the opposing pitcher, Jack Flaherty, bunted towards first and left Ross no option but to take the out at first base as the sixth run scored, 6-0 after three and a half.

Ross returned to the mound in the fifth and gave up a grand slam by DeJong, whose second of the game and fifth of the season made it a 10-2 game in the Cardinals’ favor.

Joe Ross’s Line: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 4 HRs, 85 P, 57 S, 4/0 GO/FO.

Flaherty vs the Nationals again: Last week in St. Louis, MO’s Busch Stadium, 25-year-old, 2014 1st Round pick Jack Flaherty held the Nationals to a run on three hits in five innings of work in a 14-3 win in which he earned his second W of the season (2-0), lowered his ERA to 4.11 on the year, and struck out six without walking a batter.

“There was some long innings on my part, just my fastball command hasn’t been what it needs to be,” Flaherty said, as quoted by the AP.

“Tonight was about the offense and what they were able to do from the beginning.”

Flaherty’s offense helped him out with a 4-0 lead early tonight, and the right-hander retired the first eight batters he faced before giving up a single by Joe Ross, who dumped a hump-back fly into short center field for the Nationals’ first hit. Ross was stranded, however, and it was 6-0 when the righty returned to the mound again.

Juan Soto walked to start the Nationals’ fourth, Josh Bell lined a double into left, and after a questionable called third strike on Kyle Schwarber, Flaherty uncorked a wild one, allowing Soto to score from third, and after a walk to Josh Harrison, a sac fly to right field by Starlin Castro made it a 6-2 game.

It was 11-2 in the Cardinals’ favor when Flaherty returned to the mound in the bottom of the fifth and worked around a one-out single in a scoreless frame. An ROE, ground-rule double, and RBI groundout in the sixth made it 11-3. Yan Gomes drove in one run with another two-base hit, 11-4, before an RBI single by Victor Robles scored the catcher, 11-5.

Jack Flaherty’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 107 P, 63 S, 7/3 GO/FO.

Bullpen Action: Kyle Finnegan took over for Joe Ross with the Cards up 10-2 in the top of the fifth, and retired one batter before giving up a solo blast to center by Justin Williams, whose second this season made it 11-2 Cardinals.

Ryne Harper retired the Cards in order in a 15-pitch sixth, and made it 6 for 6 on 25 pitches after he set them down in order in the top of the seventh.

Genesis Cabrera walked Andrew Stevenson and gave up a line drive double to right by Juan Soto in the first two at bats of the Nats’ seventh, but retired the next three batters without a run scoring. Still 11-5 Cards.

Kyle McGowin hit Matt Carpenter to start the Cardinals’ half of the eighth, and Carpenter’s pinch runner, Scott Hurst, made his way around to third on a wild pitch and a groundout, but was thrown out at home trying to score on a grounder to short when Jordy Mercer got the throw to Yan Gomes in time.

Paul Goldschmidt drove in a run with a two-out single, however, and it was 12-5 by the time McGowin got the third out.

Daniel Ponce de Leon hit Yan Gomes in a scoreless bottom of the eighth.

Hernán Pérez tossed his second scoreless inning in his second appearance out of the bullpen in the top of the ninth.

Ponce de Leon returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth and wrapped this one up with a scoreless frame.

Final Score: 12-5 Cardinals

Nationals now 5-9