Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
In the final game of a four-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals, a tight pitcher’s duel turned into a dramatic comeback for the Nationals before a walk-off sacrifice fly off the bat of Denard Span sealed a 3-2 victory for the home team. As clutch as Span was, it all started hours before his ninth inning heroics with a strong performance by Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg.
Strasburg bounced back nicely from his start against the Marlins last week, in which he gave up six runs in just four innings. It was a much different story for the right-hander on Sunday as he gave up just two runs over six innings of work while striking out nine batters.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, Cardinals starter Shelby Miller was just as good if not better than Strasburg, throwing five and one-third scoreless innings while striking out seven. Although the Nationals weren’t making much contact against Miller, Washington still mounted several potential rallies thanks to five walks by the Cardinals starter. But the Nationals once again failed to get the big hit early in the game and stranded 11 runners on base before the seventh inning.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, took the lead early against Strasburg when a double-play ball off the bat of Jhonny Peralta allowed Matt Adams to score. St. Louis made it a two-run game in the fifth inning when an RBI double by Miller, the pitcher, allowed Peter Bourjos to score.
For a while it looked like the Nationals offense would not be able to break through against one of the best pitching staffs in the game, until a seventh inning rally finally paid off. With runners on first and second and one out, an RBI single to right field off the bat of Ian Desmond allowed Adam LaRoche to score from second. Danny Espinosa tied the game at two later in the inning with an RBI single to right field.
It remained a tie game until the bottom of the ninth inning, when Denard Span’s heroics sealed the win for the Nationals. With the bases loaded and one out against Cardinals reliever Seth Maness, Span popped a 1-2 pitch into left field, allowing Espinosa to tag up and score the winning run from third base.
It wasn’t the best weekend for the Nationals, but any series you can take two out of four against the Cardinals is a good series. the Nationals will try to keep things going tomorrow night when they take on Mike Trout and the Angels.