The Cards quickly erased a 1-0 deficit after the top of the first with five runs in the bottom half of the inning and put the game out of reach with four more runs in the second. Allen Craig had an RBI single in each inning on his way to a 4-4 night and Yadier Molina put the exclamation point on the two inning rally with a two-run homer in the second.
The Nats got on the board first with a double from Bryce Harper and a two out single from Adam Laroche–both on inside cutters from Cards starter Adam Wainwright. Wainwright struggled to put away hitters in the first two innings, but quickly settled in, allowing only a double to Ryan Zimmerman and single to Harper in his final four innings. Mike Matheny shut Wainwright down after six innings, having allowed just the one run on five hits and a walk. A Roger Bernadina home run in the seventh off Joe Kelly accounted for the Nats only other run as Trevor Rosenthal and Fernando Salas threw scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
Patience at the plate, good base running, and poor defense on the part of the Nats all contributed to the four run outburst in the first. Jon Jay is fourth in baseball in GB% among hitters with at least 400 PA’s and appropriately led off with a ground ball single up the middle off of starter Edwin Jackson. Matt Carpenter followed by working a walk–one of four walks allowed over only 1 1/3 innings by Jackson. Matt Holliday then hit a chopper in the hole to shortstop Ian Desmond, which drew Ryan Zimmerman into the hole and away from third base. Desmond’s only choice was to go to second, but Carpenter beat the throw on a close play. A line drive single by Allen Craig tied up the score and then Zimmerman misplayed a Molina chopper to give the Cards the lead. The error was Zimmerman’s 19th of the year, tying him for third most in baseball. Carlos Beltran worked a walk with the bases loaded and Daniel Descalso followed with a sac fly to center field. Both trail runners adeptly tagged up, allowing Molina to get to third with one out and Beltran to move into scoring position. Pete Kozma capped the inning with an RBI bloop single.
A leadoff double by Jay and home run into the left field bullpen by Molina powered the four run second inning for the Cards, but it was two wild pitches and two more walks that spelled the end of Jackson’s night and he was removed in favor of Tom Gorzelanny after getting only one out in the inning. The Cards did not score again until pushing across three more runs in the eighth, highlighted by Shane Robinson‘s two run homer.
The twelve run outburst was a great response to getting shut out by the Astros on Wednesday and after the win the Cards are now 9-2 in the last eleven games. The win pushes Wainwright’s record to 14-13 and he dropped his ERA to 3.94, while the loss moves Jackson to 9-10. The Dodgers 8-0 win over Colorado last night means the Cards’ lead remains at three games, but with only five games left the Redbirds’ magic number to clinch the second wild card spot is now just three.
The teams meet again tonight at 6:15 CST, 7:15 for those on the east coast. The matchup pits Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.77 ERA) for the Cards against Jordan Zimmerman (12-8, 2.90 ERA) for the Nats. This will be Lohse’s last regular season start, but if (when) the Cards face the Braves in the Wild Card playoff game next Friday it could likely be Lohse on the hill on five days rest.