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|Washington (81-52) «||0||0||0||1||0||1||2||0||x||4||13||2|
WASHINGTON -- Life on the road was welcoming for St. Louis at the start of its 10-game trip. Now, the defending World Series champion Cardinals can't wait to get home.
The Cardinals lost three of four at Nationals Park and five of six overall while trying to hold off Pittsburgh for the final NL wild-card berth.
St. Louis remains one game ahead of Pittsburgh in the race for the final playoff spot. After a grueling road trip, there are worse places to be.
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"Our goal is to make it to the playoffs and we're right where we want to be as far as that's concerned," outfielder John Jay said. "I still like the shape our team's in. I think we're going to be all right."
St. Louis began its trip by scoring 22 runs in winning three of four from NL Central rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. During the final six games, the Cardinals were outscored 45-13 to finish at 4-6.
Strasburg had something to do with the Cardinals early troubles in the finale.
"Strasburg threw the ball well, kept us at bay," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Walking out of here after a tough trip 5-5 would've been real nice."
The NL East-leading Nationals took three of four from St. Louis and passed their 80-win total from last season.
Strasburg, rocked for seven runs last Tuesday at Miami, left with a 2-0 lead and a 2.94 ERA. He threw 97 pitches and wound up with a no-decision.
The 23-year-old Strasburg has struck out a league-leading 195 in 156 1/3 innings this season. The Nationals have repeatedly stated they intend on shutting him down in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010.
The Nationals have been vague about an innings limit, but the team sat Jordan Zimmermann at 161 1/3 innings last season in a similar situation.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said on Thursday that Strasburg is probably down to "two or three" starts, meaning the final one could come Sept. 7 at home against Miami or Sept. 12 at the New York Mets.
Washington responded with four consecutive two-out singles against Lance Lynn (13-6). Desmond's flare to center scored pinch-runner Eury Perez with the go-ahead run. Espinosa had three of the Nationals' 13 hits.
Lynn pitched one inning, allowing two runs on four hits for the Cardinals, who have lost five of six while trying to hold off Pittsburgh for the final NL wild-card berth.
Facing the Cardinals for the first time, Strasburg gave up Matt Holliday's two-out double in the first. The All-Star ace held St. Louis without another hit until Holliday's sixth-inning single.
Strasburg walked one overall. He fanned at least two hitters in four innings and regained the NL strikeout lead by whiffing St. Louis pitcher Jake Westbrook in the fifth.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's throwing error, a walk and a wild pitch put runners on the corners with one out in the fourth. Holliday attempted to score the game's first run on Bryan Anderson's shallow fly ball to right, but Bryce Harper easily threw him out at the plate for the final out.
Usually in center, Harper shifted to right with Jayson Werth scratched from the lineup minutes before the first pitch.
Suzuki, acquired in a trade with Oakland last month, stroked his third homer on the season in the bottom half. In the sixth, he tacked on a third consecutive single against Westbrook, which scored Desmond and ended Westbrook's day.
Westbrook allowed two runs on nine hits with six strikeouts and one walk. He avoided his third loss in four starts when Descalso turned on a 3-1 pitch from Burnett for his fourth home run of the season.
"It was a lot better today than the last two starts," said Westbrook, strafed by Houston and Pittsburgh for 12 runs and 18 hits in 10 innings. "It was kind of a grind all day, but I was able to make some decent pitches."
|Stephen Strasburg's (nine Ks, no runs allowed) arm is holding up just fine after surpassing 156 innings on the season. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Jon Jay, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.312|
|Carlos Beltran, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.266|
|Sam Freeman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Matt Holliday, LF||4||0||2||0||0||0||0||.305|
|Allen Craig, 1B-RF||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.309|
|David Freese, 3B||3||1||1||0||1||1||2||.300|
|Bryan Anderson, C||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||.333|
|a- Tony Cruz, PH-C||2||0||1||1||0||0||0||.257|
|Pete Kozma, SS||3||1||1||0||0||2||0||.167|
|b- Matt Carpenter, PH-1B||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.308|
|Daniel Descalso, 2B-SS||4||1||1||2||0||1||0||.220|
|Jake Westbrook, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.125|
|Edward Mujica, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Shane Robinson, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.265|
|Lance Lynn, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.071|
|Skip Schumaker, 2B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.296|
|a-flied out for Anderson in the 7th|
|b-flied out for Kozma in the 8th|
|c-singled for Mujica in the 7th|
|2B - Matt Holliday (33, Strasburg), David Freese (23, Mattheus), Tony Cruz (8, Mattheus)|
|HR - Daniel Descalso (4, Burnett)|
|RBI - Tony Cruz (11), Daniel Descalso 2 (19)|
|2-OUT RBI - Tony Cruz (3), Daniel Descalso 2 (7)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Outfield Assists - Jon Jay 1|
|DP - Kozma-Descalso-Craig|
|E - Daniel Descalso (11, Misplayed grounder)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Lance Lynn (L,13-6)||1||4||2||2||0||0||0||4.08|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jake Westbrook 97-63, Edward Mujica 5-5, Lance Lynn 23-15, Sam Freeman 14-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jake Westbrook 4-6, Lance Lynn 2-0, Sam Freeman 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Jake Westbrook 26, Edward Mujica 2, Lance Lynn 6, Sam Freeman 3|
|Roger Bernadina, CF-LF||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.300|
|a- Tyler Moore, PH-LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.282|
|Bryce Harper, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.254|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.283|
|Michael Morse, LF||4||0||2||0||0||1||0||.289|
|Eury Perez, PR-CF||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chad Tracy, 1B||4||1||2||0||0||0||2||.286|
|Ian Desmond, SS||4||1||2||1||0||1||1||.285|
|Danny Espinosa, 2B||4||0||3||1||0||1||0||.253|
|Kurt Suzuki, C||3||1||2||2||1||0||0||.224|
|Stephen Strasburg, P||2||0||1||0||0||1||3||.277|
|b- Adam LaRoche, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.260|
|Sean Burnett, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Ryan Mattheus, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Mark DeRosa, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.149|
|Tyler Clippard, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-flied out for Bernadina in the 8th|
|b-flied out for Strasburg in the 6th|
|c-grounded out for Mattheus in the 8th|
|HR - Kurt Suzuki (3, Westbrook)|
|RBI - Ian Desmond (59), Danny Espinosa (49), Kurt Suzuki 2 (28)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ian Desmond (29), Danny Espinosa (26), Kurt Suzuki (9)|
|SB - Eury Perez (1, 3rd base off Lynn/Cruz)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|Outfield Assists - Bryce Harper 1|
|DP - Harper-Suzuki|
|E - Chad Tracy (1, Missed catch of throw), Ryan Zimmerman (12, Throwing)|
|Sean Burnett (BS,3)||0.2||3||2||2||0||0||1||2.49|
|Ryan Mattheus (W,5-1)||1.1||2||1||1||0||1||0||2.50|
|Tyler Clippard (S,29)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.69|
|HBP - Jay (by Ryan Mattheus)|
|WP - Stephen Strasburg (5), Ryan Mattheus (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Stephen Strasburg 97-65, Sean Burnett 19-11, Ryan Mattheus 24-14, Tyler Clippard 9-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Stephen Strasburg 5-5, Sean Burnett 1-1, Ryan Mattheus 2-1, Tyler Clippard 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Stephen Strasburg 22, Sean Burnett 5, Ryan Mattheus 7, Tyler Clippard 3|
|Attendance - 31096|
|Game Time - 3:01|
|Temperature - 83|
|Umpires - Home - Mike Winters, First Base - Mark Wegner, Second Base - Mike Muchlinski, Third Base - Clint Fagan|