|Carpenter got it done both on the hill and at the plate Wednesday. (US Presswire)|
The defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals took a 2-1 lead on the top-seeded Washington Nationals in the best-of-five NLDS with an 8-0 victory Wednesday afternoon in Washington. The Cardinals have now outscored the Nationals 20-4 in the past two games after the Nats opened the series with a win.
Hero: In early July, Chris Carpenter had surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome, which would relieve nerve-related issues in his throwing shoulder. He was expected to miss around six months. Just over three months later, he threw 5 2/3 shutout innings on the road in the NLDS to help propel his team to victory. Not only that, but Carpenter went 2-for-3 with a double at the plate. Even though his hits didn't produce any runs, they still extended the effort of the opposing pitcher, as those spots in the batting order should be close to guaranteed outs.
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Goat: Most of the Nationals' offensive players have a case here -- specifically those not named Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond or Ryan Zimmerman. Yes, the Cardinals continued to pour on runs, but the game slowly got out of hand as the Nationals stranded runners several times early in the game. When it was 4-0 through five innings, the Nats had stranded eight runners. When it was 5-0 through six innings, the Nats had stranded 10. For the game, they were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Turning point: Pete Kozma's three-run homer in the top of the second inning. Before that, even with the Cardinals getting a run in the first inning, the Washington crowd was rocking, and a one-run deficit wouldn't have been a huge deal, especially since Carpenter still doesn't seem to be 100 percent with his command. But the early three-run shot by the Cardinals' young shortstop set the tone, and the momentum never left St. Louis' side afterward.
It was over when: The Nationals left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, and then the Cardinals pushed the lead to 5-0 the following half-inning. Combine those two, and it was pretty clear the Nationals were buried in Game 3.
Next: Game 4 will be Thursday at 4:07 p.m. ET in Washington. Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86 in regular season) will look to close things down for the visiting Cardinals while Ross Detwiler (10-8, 3.40) aims to keep his Nationals alive.