Apr 18, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton (59) congratulates pitcher Rafael Soriano (29) after a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Cardinals 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Just one day after allowing the Cardinals to score eight runs on 14 hits, Nationals pitchers held St. Louis to just one run in a pitchers duel between two of the best young arms in the National League.
Gio Gonzalez got the start for the Nationals and rebounded nicely from a rough start against the Braves last weekend. The left-hander turned in one of his strongest outings of the season Friday, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out seven over seven innings of work.
While the Nationals weren’t able to get much of anything going against Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, Anthony Rendon managed to break through in the bottom of the third inning with a solo home run to left field, giving Gonzalez and the Nationals an early 1-0 lead. But the cardinals got that run right back the next inning on an RBI single by Mark Ellis, tying the game at one.
For a while it seemed like neither team would be able to score against either starter as both were dominating throughout the early innings. But the Nationals mounted a rally in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with just one out. After Jose Lobaton grounded into a force out at home, it was up to Zach Walters to drive in the runners, a feat which he accomplished without even swinging the bat.
After getting ahead with an 0-1 count, Wacha threw a wild pitch that Yadier Molina was unable to keep in front of him, allowing Ian Desmond to score from third. When Molina tried to throw Desmond out at the plate, the ball sailed past Wacha and rolled into the Cardinals’ dugout, allowing Danny Espinosa to score on a dead ball.
The Cardinals mounted a rally of their own in the top of the eight inning when Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard allowed St. Louis to put two runners in scoring position with just one out. Fortunately for the Nationals, right-hander Drew Storen came into the game and retired the next two hitters in one of the gutsiest performances we’ve seen from a Nationals reliever all season, preserving a 3-1 lead for the Nationals.
Rafael Soriano recorded his fourth save of the season and the Nationals took the second game of the series, 3-1. They’ll be back at it tomorrow afternoon when Jordan Zimmermann will take on Lance Lynn in the third game of this four-game set between the Nationals and the Cardinals.