Washington Nationals Recap: Nats lose big lead, fall to Cards in walk-off fashion
By Pablo Roa
After claiming an early 4-0 lead, the Washington Nationals lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in walk-off fashion Tuesday night.
Nationals starter Joe Ross has had a memorable rookie campaign in 2015. But tonight, in what was likely one of his final starts of the season, Ross pitched a game he’ll likely want to forget.
Ross struggled mightily and looked nothing like the dominant, commanding presence we’ve seen on the mound for most of his starts. The right-hander lasted just 2 2/3 innings and allowed three runs. He wasn’t hit hard, but he simply couldn’t find the strike zone and walked a whopping six batters.
For a pitcher who has been pounding the zone all season long to lose his command like Ross did tonight is surprising, and the fact that he allowed three runs on just one hit shows just how damaging those runs were.
Here’s a Tweet from Federal Baseball that sums up Ross’ struggles tonight and how they stand out in what has been an otherwise solid rookie season:
Fortunately, the Nationals gave Ross enough run support that even walking six batters in fewer than three innings did not result in a loss for the right-hander.
Anthony Rendon got the scoring started for the Nationals in the top of the fourth inning with a two-run double to give Washington a 2-0 lead. Bryce Harper then hit a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-0 game, before Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo home run—his 14th of the season—to stretch the Nationals’ lead to 4-0.
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The big lead was short lived, however, as Ross imploded in the bottom of the inning. The Cardinals had two outs and a runner on second before Ross allowed an RBI single to Jhonny Peralta. Ross then proceeded to walk three batters in a row, giving the Cardinals a free run to make it a 4-2 game. Doug Fister came in to relieve Ross, but he hit the first batter he faced to drive in yet another run for St. Louis and cut the Nationals’ lead to 4-3.
Fortunately for the Nationals, the inning ended one step short of disaster as Fister retired the next batter. Fister recovered nicely from the hit by pitch and pitched two scoreless innings. Matt Thornton, Blake Treinen and Felipe Rivero also combined for two scoreless innings.
After the Nationals scored a run in the seventh, Drew Storen took the mound in the eighth to get the Nationals 5-3 lead to closer Jonathan Papelbon. Tonight wasn’t Storen’s night, however, and the right-hander allowed two runs—both of which stemmed from an absurd throwing error he himself made.
With the game tied at 5-5, the Cardinals put it away in dramatic fashion in the ninth inning. Casey Janssen was on the mound for the Nationals and was one out away from sending the game into extra innings. But with two outs and two runners on, Brandon Moss hit a three-run, walk-off homer to seal an 8-5 victory for St. Louis.
With the loss and the Mets’ loss over the Phillies, the Nationals remain 6.5 games out of first place in the NL East.