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St. Louis Cardinals
2
Record: 81-45
1st in National League Central
Washington Nationals
8
Record: 63-62
2nd in National League East
Complete – March 24, 2016 – 1:05 PM ET – Space Coast Stadium, Melbourne, Florida – Attendance: 7,450 – Duration: 3 Hours, 4 Minutes
Umpires
 
First Base #49 Andy Fletcher
Homeplate   Chad Whitson
Second Base #79 Manny Gonzalez
Third Base   John Tumpane
Starting Pitchers
Team Pitcher W L ERA
Away Adam Wainwright 8 5 4.50
Home Max Scherzer 10 6 3.03
Pitching Stats
POSplayerIPHRERBBKHRERA
SPAdam Wainwright (L)4.17441408.31
RPSeth Maness0.243300140.50
RPDean Kiekhefer1.01000000.00
RPSam Tuivailala1.00002000.00
RPSeung Hwan Oh1.02111009.00
Pitching Stats
POSplayerIPHRERBBKHRERA
SPMax Scherzer (W)5.03203900.00
RPRafael Martin1.00000100.00
RPTrevor Gott1.01000000.00
RPNick Masset1.01001100.00
RPShawn Kelley1.01002300.00
Batting Stats
POSplayerABRHRBIBBKAVGOBPSLG
2BKolten Wong410001.000.000.000
3BJacob Wilson100001.000.000.000
RFStephen Piscotty210011.000.333.000
CFC.J. McElroy100010.000.500.000
1BBrandon Moss201011.500.667.500
RPSeth Maness000000.000.000.000
RPDean Kiekhefer000000.000.000.000
RPSam Tuivailala000000.000.000.000
LFCarlos Peguero100001.000.000.000
RPSeung Hwan Oh000000.000.000.000
CFRandal Grichuk100001.000.000.000
SSJedd Gyorko300002.000.000.000
3BPaul DeJong1010001.0001.0002.000
1BMatt Adams300001.000.000.000
1BDavid Washington000010.0001.000.000
CFTommy Pham401201.250.250.500
CBrayan Pena301001.333.333.333
CMichael Ohlman1010001.0001.0001.000
2BGreg Garcia200011.000.333.000
2BJoey Hawkins000000.000.000.000
OFHarrison Bader100001.000.000.000
SPAdam Wainwright100001.000.000.000
LFJeremy Hazelbaker1010101.0001.0001.000
Batting Stats
POSplayerABRHRBIBBKAVGOBPSLG
SSTrea Turner301001.333.333.333
3BBrendan Ryan110010.000.500.000
2BDaniel Murphy401000.250.250.250
2BStephen Drew1010001.0001.0002.000
RFBryce Harper412001.500.500.750
LFChris Heisey1011001.0001.0001.000
1BRyan Zimmerman411000.250.250.250
1BClint Robinson100000.000.000.000
LFJayson Werth322111.667.7501.000
RPNick Masset000000.000.000.000
CFTony Campana100000.000.000.000
RPShawn Kelley000000.000.000.000
3BAnthony Rendon1212201.0001.0002.000
1BTyler Moore000000.000.000.000
CFMichael Taylor412400.500.5001.500
LFMatthew den Dekker000000.000.000.000
CWilson Ramos302000.667.667.667
CJhonatan Solano100000.000.000.000
SPMax Scherzer200001.000.000.000
2BScott Sizemore100000.000.000.000
RPRafael Martin000000.000.000.000
RPTrevor Gott000000.000.000.000
LFReed Johnson100000.000.000.000
Nationals’ successful challenge leads to victory over Cardinals

ST. LOUIS — For a moment, it looked like the Washington Nationals had frittered away a potential run-scoring chance in the fourth inning.

But manager Dusty Baker’s successful challenge put Washington back in business, and as things turned out, it led to the big inning they needed to start a 10-game road trip off with a win.

Scoring four runs in the fourth to take the lead for good, Washington won for just the eighth time in 34 games in St. Louis since moving from Montreal before the 2005 season, edging the Cardinals 5-4 Friday night at sold-out Busch Stadium.

“Replay definitely helped us tonight big-time,” Baker said.

After singling to lead off the fourth, Anthony Rendon attempted to swipe second with one out as Ryan Zimmerman took a 2-1 pitch outside. Catcher Eric Fryer’s throw appeared to be late, but second baseman Jedd Gyorko slapped a quick tag on Rendon and Doug Eddings called him out.

However, Baker asked for a replay and it revealed what Eddings didn’t see from his angle — that Rendon got his hand to the bag just ahead of the tag.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be conclusive,” Fryer said of the replay, “but it was. It was pretty easy to tell on the replay that he was safe.”

With the call reversed, the Nationals (15-7) pressed their attack. Zimmerman walked, Daniel Murphy singled to right to score Rendon and Jayson Werth’s sacrifice fly to right brought Zimmerman home for a 3-2 advantage.

Danny Espinosa then pounced on a 1-2 mistake by Leake, attacking a fastball that swayed toward the plate’s middle and driving it into the St. Louis bullpen behind the right-center-field wall for his first homer of the year.

Fryer said Leake tried to repeat a pitch that beat Espinosa for the first two strikes of the at-bat.

“He tried to catch the outside corner and it just caught too much of the plate,” Fryer said. “Espinosa had a really good at-bat.”

It proved to be the killing blow for Leake (0-3), who was charged with five hits and five runs in seven innings with a walk and two strikeouts. Signed for five years and $80 million as a free agent in December, Leake has permitted at least four runs in all five starts.

Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg (4-0) shrugged off a shaky first inning in which he was touched for an RBI double by Matt Holliday and a run-scoring single by Matt Adams on consecutive pitches.

Strasburg kicked it into high gear in his third pass through the order, fanning seven of eight hitters. After whiffing Matt Carpenter to strand two men in the fourth, Strasburg struck out the side in the fifth with a Holliday single mixed in, then whiffed the side in the sixth.

“He’s no longer a kid,” Baker said of Strasburg. “Now he’s a pitcher. He knows what to do, he doesn’t need anyone to guide him through the game. He kept his composure and we got him a lead, and he got locked in.”

Strasburg scattered eight hits in his seven innings, walking one and fanning nine for his first win in five career starts against the Cardinals (12-11).

Reliever Blake Treinen coughed up a two-run homer to Matt Adams in the eighth to draw St. Louis within a run. Closer Jonathan Papelbon hinted at a tightrope ninth when he walked pinch-hitter Kolten Wong to start it, but erased it with a 4-6-3 double play off pinch-hitter Brandon Moss’ bat and retired Carpenter on a grounder for his eighth save in nine chances.

Michael Taylor ended Washington’s 22-inning scoreless streak with a leadoff homer on the game’s third pitch. It was an omen of things to come for the Nationals, who used the replay review to craft the big inning that gave Strasburg the cushion he needed.

“I was kind of searching for things a bit early, but the guys gave me a chance and scored some runs,” he said.

NOTES: St. Louis C Yadier Molina got the night off after starting in 21 of the team’s first 22 games, with Eric Fryer picking up his second start. … One big reason for Washington’s fast start? Its defense has committed an MLB-low seven errors and ranks third in defensive efficiency, converting 74 percent of batted balls into outs. They were 21st last year at 70 percent. … Cardinals SS Aledmys Diaz needs one more hit to join Albert Pujols as the franchise’s only rookies to bang out 30 hits in April.

Nationals 6, Cardinals 1

ST. LOUIS — Informed that Washington had just won its first series in St. Louis since 2007, left fielder Jayson Werth sounded incredulous.

“That’s crazy,” he said. “I don’t have anything else for you on that.”

Werth used his bat to do most of the rest of his commentary, capping a four-run first inning with a three-run homer as the Nationals topped the sloppy Cardinals 6-1 on Saturday in Busch Stadium.

Making his first start since April 20, Joe Ross worked six solid innings to improve to 3-0 as Washington won for just the ninth time in 35 games in St. Louis since the franchise moved from Montreal before the 2005 season.

“They’re always tough here,” said Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who has endured his share of losses in the visitors’ dugout as the former manager of the Cincinnati Reds. “They’re tough anywhere.”

The Cardinals weren’t so tough in this one, tripping all over themselves throughout the day with a combination of bad at-bats, poor defense and a lack of control from their pitchers.

Jaime Garcia (1-2) struggled with fastball command in the first, consistently falling behind in counts and extending the inning with a two-out walk to Ryan Zimmerman. Washington pounced with an RBI single by Daniel Murphy to set the stage for Werth.

After gaining the count advantage, Werth took a strike and then lashed a 2-1 changeup into the left field seats for his fourth homer of the year. While Werth is batting only .211, he does have eight extra-base hits and 13 RBI.

“I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to catch a break,” Werth said. “You know, that was a pretty good changeup he threw me, a tough one to get in the air. It was good to get those runs in. Obviously, that helps give you confidence.”

Staked to a big cushion before tossing his first pitch, Ross made it stick, scattering six hits in his stint and allowing St. Louis’ only run with two walks and four strikeouts. After retiring 11 straight hitters following a leadoff double by Jeremy Hazelbaker, Ross maneuvered in and out of trouble the last 2 1/3 innings.

Ross has allowed only two runs in his first four starts, covering 22 2/3 innings.

“It’s not surprising to me, because from what I heard when I took this job, his stuff was as good as anyone on this staff,” Baker said of Ross.

The Cardinals (12-12) loaded the bases with one out in the fifth for their 2-3 hitters. Matt Carpenter lined a sacrifice fly to center that scored Ruben Tejada, but Matt Holliday bounced the first pitch he saw to shortstop Danny Espinosa for an inning-ending forceout.

The Cardinals actually outhit the Nationals 8-6 but were their worst enemy. They made three errors, two by Hazelbaker in center that figured into both Washington rallies, issued five walks and hit two batters.

Garcia refused to blame the defense, which leads the National League with 24 errors.

“Those guys have made great plays behind me in the past and they’re working on (defense) every day,” he said. “I walk batters, too. Bottom line is I could have been better in the first inning. I can’t put us four runs down.”

Two walks, a hit batter, a fielding gaffe by Hazelbaker on a Murphy single and Werth’s sacrifice fly led to the Nationals’ final runs in the eighth.

Three relievers finished up Ross’ win for Washington, which wrapped up April with a 16-7 mark for Baker, its first-year manager.

“It was a good month, but it’s only one month,” he said. “Now we go out here tomorrow and start a new month.”

One of the few bright spots for the Cardinals occurred when shortstop Aledmys Diaz singled in the ninth for his 30th hit of April, making him the second rookie in team history to accomplish that feat. Albert Pujols did it in 2001.

NOTES: St. Louis third base coach Jose Oquendo will need knee replacement surgery next month, meaning he won’t be able to join the coaching staff this season. Oquendo has been part of the team’s coaching staff since 1999. … Washington’s 16-7 start is its best since the franchise moved from Montreal after the 2004 season. … Cardinals SS Jhonny Peralta (left thumb) has started light fielding drills and is hopeful of going out on a rehab assignment in three weeks. Peralta was injured in spring training.

Scherzer dominates Cardinals in latest return to St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — From the first pitch of Sunday’s game, Max Scherzer knew it was back.

He knew he could put his fastball at the knees any time he wanted. He knew his fastball had the movement it needed. He knew his secondary pitches were working in concert.

And as it turned out, everyone soon figured out Scherzer’s old hometown team didn’t have much of a chance to hit him.

Winning for the first time in three starts back in his native St. Louis, Scherzer powered his way through seven scoreless innings as the Washington Nationals polished off a sweep of the Cardinals with a 6-1 decision at Busch Stadium.

Scherzer (3-1) allowed just four hits and never let a runner reach scoring position, walking none and whiffing nine. The result gave Scherzer victories against every major league team but Detroit, the team he left following the 2014 season to sign with Washington.

“I made a little mechanical change and I instantly felt like I was on top of the ball,” Scherzer said. “When I can throw a fastball early in the count and get ahead, it sets up all of my stuff. That’s why I felt I was successful today.”

It was the first time the Nationals (17-7) swept the Cardinals (12-13) in a series in St. Louis since moving from Montreal after the 2004 season. They did it in decisive fashion as well, outscoring the Cardinals 17-6 and recording at least 10 strikeouts in every game.

First-year manager Dusty Baker, who skippered a lot of Cincinnati teams to a lot of losses over the year in St. Louis, could be excused for marveling at his team’s weekend.

“I can’t ever remember coming in here and sweeping the Cardinals,” he said. “They’re a tough bunch, especially here.”

Baker said St. Louis might have been affected by a punishing travel schedule which saw it get home after 4 a.m. Friday following the series finale in Arizona Thursday night, then play a day game Saturday after Friday night’s 5-4 loss.

But the series sweep continued an early-season trend for the Cardinals, who are 1-8 against winning teams (Pittsburgh, Chicago Cubs, Washington) and have been outscored in those games 42-19.

The only win in those games was delivered by Carlos Martinez, and he matched Scherzer pitch-for-pitch through five innings, retiring 15 of the first 16 hitters he faced. But Martinez cracked a bit in the sixth when he permitted an RBI single to Matt den Dekker.

Martinez was knocked out in the seventh, undone by back-to-back homers. Clint Robinson ambushed a first-pitch fastball with Jayson Werth aboard, sending it 419 feet to the right-center field seats, and Danny Espinosa followed on the next pitch with a 420-foot blast just to the left of Robinson’s shot.

Martinez departed two batters later after Scherzer’s second hit of the day, finishing with seven hits and four runs over 6 2/3 innings with no walks and eight strikeouts as he fell to 4-1.

But the huge crowd around Martinez’s locker after the game wasn’t totally interested in his views on the game. He is the defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by Diana Molina in Florida on April 21 — alleging assault, libel and slander — for more than $1.5 million.

Martinez politely danced around the issue when queried about it.

“The only thing I can control is to come here and help my team to win,” Martinez said through an interpreter. “That’s my main focus. I have nothing more to say about it.”

The Nationals added runs in the eighth on Daniel Murphy’s RBI double and in the ninth when Chris Heisey belted a two-out pinch-homer to left-center.

St. Louis avoided a shutout when Brandon Moss cracked a two-out solo homer in the ninth, but it wasn’t nearly enough to spoil a successful homecoming for Scherzer and a historic weekend for Washington.

“Getting a sweep is big for our ball club,” Scherzer said. “Everyone had a hand in it today.”

NOTES: St. Louis C Brayan Pena (left knee) has been working out on an antigravity treadmill, but is still at least two weeks away from making more strides in rehab. Pena was injured late in spring training. … Washington RHP Joe Ross had a scoreless inning streak of 20 1/3 innings stopped in the fifth inning Saturday, which was the National League’s second-longest streak in April. … Cardinals SS Jhonny Peralta (left thumb) took grounders Sunday as well as controlled swings. Peralta is said to be about three weeks away from starting a rehab assignment.


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