The Bottom Line:

– The Washington Nationals (81-52) defeated the St. Louis Cardinals (72-62) by a score of 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. The Cardinals temporarily move back to one game ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers for the second slot in the National League wild card race.

Jake Westbrook stranded the based-loaded in the second inning and then avoided trouble in the third after allowing two two-out singles. Westbrook flirted with trouble during most of his 5.1 IP. He gave up 9 hits, including 3 consecutive straight ones that forced him out of the game in the sixth inning.

Kurt Suzuki continued his great career against Westbrook. He was responsible for the Nationals’ first two runs. In the fourth inning, Suzuki hit his second home run in 19 games with the Nationals. He had just 1 homer in 75 games with the Athletics in 2012. Then in the sixth inning, he singled in Ian Desmond.

Stephen Strasburg pitched 6 scoreless innings with 9 strikeouts and only gave up 2 hits and 1 walk. He is truly a special pitcher.

Mike Matheny replaced Westbrook with Edward Mujica, who came out of the bullpen to extend his scoreless inning streak to 15 IP.

– The Nationals dug themselves out of their self-made jams. Chad Tracy committed an error leading to first and third with two out, but Strasburg struck out David Freese to end the first inning. Then in the fourth inning, Ryan Zimmerman airmailed a throw over Tracy’s head for a two-base error. After a walk, Strasburg induced Bryan Anderson to fly out to shallow left field and Bryce Harper threw out Allen Craig attempting to tag up and score.

– In the seventh, Daniel Descalso tied the game up with a two-run home run. It was hit his first career home run off of a left-handed pitcher.

– After inducing a double play to clear the bases in the bottom of the seventh, Lance Lynn allowed four straight singles to give the Nationals back the lead, 4-2.

– Back-to-back Cardinals doubles by Freese and Tony Cruz in the eighth inning closed the gap to 4-3, but it was not enough. Drew Storen sat down the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the ninth.

It was a tough way to end the series. The Cardinals battled back in this game, but came up short. Fortunately, they will still hold onto a lead in the second NL wild card spot going into Labor Day. The Cardinals end up losing 3 of 4 to the NL East-leading Nationals.

In other news, the Cardinals are expected to promoted RHP Shelby Miller this week to add some pitching depth to the struggling bullpen.  He has been very impressive in August with AAA Memphis.

What’s Next: The Cardinals return home to begin a three-game series with the New York Mets at 1:15 pm central time. The Labor Day game can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest and as always, pre and post game information can be found on CardsBlog. Go Cards.