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St. Louis at Washington

Scoreboard
St. Louis (71-60)000000010140
Washington (79-51) «20101220x8131

Harper, Werth homers lead Nationals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Edwin Jackson had the St. Louis Cardinals swinging at pitches in the dirt, so often that catcher Jesus Flores ended up with three assists throwing the ball to first after strikeouts.

Jackson fanned 10 in eight stellar innings Thursday night as the Washington Nationals padded their NL East lead with an 8-1 win over the punchless Cardinals.

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"That was a gem," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "He had electric stuff."

Bryce Harper hit his third home run in two games, and Jayson Werth homered for the first time since May for the Nationals, who opened an 11-game homestand with an overwhelming performance against a wild-card contender that failed to score an earned run for the third straight game.

The news was worse for the Cardinals afterward, when shortstop Rafael Furcal was concerned that he might have suffered a season-ending injury while making a pair of throws in the sixth inning.

"It's bad," said Furcal, who was diagnosed with a strained right elbow and will have an MRI on Friday.

The victory moved the Nationals 5 ½ games ahead of the idle Atlanta Braves. Washington's recent five-game losing streak has tightened the race again, but Johnson's team has come out of the funk with 16 runs in two games, led by the top-of-the-order tandem of Werth and Harper.

A day after his first two-homer game, Harper hit a drive so hard that it short-hopped the back wall of the Nationals bullpen and bounced all the way back over the right-field fence. It was a two-run shot in the first inning, and the teenager followed by hitting the ball even farther in the third -- only to have it caught on the warning track near the 402-foot mark in straightaway center field. Some in the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he returned to the dugout.

Harper added an RBI single in the sixth, further evidence that he's fully emerged from a post All-Star game slump. Furthermore, he played all nine innings -- unlike the night before, when he was ejected for throwing his helmet.

"Bryce is a totally different animal," Werth said. "He's a special player. He's 19. It's unbelievable. When I was 19, I don't know if I would have been ready for all this. I'm just glad he stayed in the game tonight."

As for Werth, he led off three innings and scored each time. He walked and singled, then hit his first homer since returning Aug. 2 from a long stint on the disabled list with a broken wrist. He has four home runs on the season and raised his average to .305.

"I was swinging the bat good. I just haven't hit any balls that go over the fence," Werth said. "But it was nice to do that. It's a lot easier when you don't have to sprint around the bases."

The way Jackson (8-9) was pitching, the Nationals didn't need all that offense. Once Flores realized the Cardinals hitters were fishing for the slider, he kept calling it -- even if it meant adding another 2-3 putout to the scorebook.

"It definitely lets you know either they're trying to get you, or either they're just not seeing that pitch that well," Jackson said. "Either way, you just want to try to continue to throw it and keep it out of the zone if they swing."

Jaime Garcia (3-6) allowed six runs over 5 1/3 innings for the Cardinals, who streak of 28 scoreless innings came to an end when Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman launched a throw well over the first baseman's head in the eighth inning, allowing a runner to score from second on the error.

St. Louis, now with a half-game lead in the race for the NL's second wild-card spot, was shut out in back-to-back games by Pittsburgh before arriving in Washington. The Cardinals last went three consecutive games without scoring an earned run in 1992.

"Nothing we can put our finger on," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "No explanation at this point."

Notes

  • St. Louis LF Matt Holliday singled in the first for his 1,500th career hit.
  • The Nationals pitching staff surpassed its previous best total for strikeouts in a season since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005 -- and there's still 32 games to go.
  • Cardinals C Yadier Molina, who collided with Pittsburgh Pirates 2B Josh Harrison on Tuesday, was medically cleared to play just a few hours before Thursday's game. He went 0 for 2 with a walk. "I really didn't want to pass on the struggles that I had and automatically throw them on to him," said Matheny, whose playing career ended in 2007 due to a concussion. "Just because I had a soft squash doesn't mean that he does. It's not fair not to him. The conversation we had was, `Hey, if you pass the tests and the doctors say it's OK, I'm not going to stop you. But I'm going to be extra cautious, because I know more about this than any one person should know."'
  • Gio Gonzalez starts for the Nationals on Friday night, facing Adam Wainwright.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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The Nationals' Edwin Jackson strikes out 10 in eight strong innings of work to defeat the Cardinals. (US Presswire)
The Nationals' Edwin Jackson strikes out 10 in eight strong innings of work to defeat the Cardinals. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Washington

J. Werth
AB 4
R 3
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Washington

E. Jackson
IP 8.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 2
K 10
 

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St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jon Jay, CF4000020 .307
Carlos Beltran, RF4010021 .268
    Tony Cruz, 1B0000000 .255
Matt Holliday, LF4010022 .306
    Edward Mujica, P0000000 .000
Allen Craig, 1B-RF4000012 .309
Yadier Molina, C2000110 .324
    Lance Lynn, P0000000 .071
    Shane Robinson, LF1000000 .262
David Freese, 3B3000100 .298
Skip Schumaker, 2B4010011 .306
Rafael Furcal, SS2000003 .264
    Daniel Descalso, SS1000000 .220
Jaime Garcia, P2000010 .267
    Fernando Salas, P0000000 .000
    Bryan Anderson, C11100001.000
Totals32140210  
Batting
2B - Bryan Anderson (1, Jackson)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Cruz-Descalso-Mujica
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jaime Garcia (L,3-6) 5.1966222 4.52
Fernando Salas 0.2100010 3.83
Lance Lynn 1222220 3.99
Edward Mujica 1100100 3.27
WP - Fernando Salas (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Jaime Garcia 85-56, Fernando Salas 13-10, Lance Lynn 31-16, Edward Mujica 11-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jaime Garcia 7-7, Fernando Salas 1-0, Lance Lynn 1-0, Edward Mujica 1-1
Batters Faced - Jaime Garcia 27, Fernando Salas 3, Lance Lynn 7, Edward Mujica 4
Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jayson Werth, RF4322102 .305
Bryce Harper, CF5123001 .252
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4010112 .281
Michael Morse, LF4130100 .292
Adam LaRoche, 1B3101112 .259
Ian Desmond, SS4020014 .284
Danny Espinosa, 2B3110111 .248
Jesus Flores, C4122001 .224
Edwin Jackson, P4000016 .191
    Mike Gonzalez, P0000000 .000
Totals35813855  
Batting
HR - Jayson Werth (4, Garcia), Bryce Harper (15, Garcia)
SF - Adam LaRoche (9)
RBI - Jayson Werth 2 (23), Bryce Harper 3 (43), Adam LaRoche (79), Jesus Flores 2 (24)
2-OUT RBI - Bryce Harper (12)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
E - Ryan Zimmerman (11, Throwing)
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Edwin Jackson (W,8-9) 84102100 3.53
Mike Gonzalez 1000000 2.63
Pitches-Strikes - Edwin Jackson 123-79, Mike Gonzalez 9-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edwin Jackson 11-4, Mike Gonzalez 1-2
Batters Faced - Edwin Jackson 31, Mike Gonzalez 3
Game Information
Attendance - 23269
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 88
Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Mike Muchlinski, Second Base - Brian Knight, Third Base - Mike Winters