Strasburg Ks 12, Nats top Cards 8-1; 1 win from World Series

WASHINGTON (AP) More than 100 pitches in, Stephen Strasburg was adamant he wasn't quite ready to leave the latest superb start by a Nationals pitcher against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series - a win that put Washington on the verge of the city's first World Series in 86 years.

It was the seventh inning, and manager Dave Martinez noticed Strasburg had flexed his right leg and reached for that hamstring. So the skipper and a trainer went to the mound to check on their guy.

''I was trying to explain to him, `Hey, you just grabbed your hamstring, so there's a little concern,''' Martinez recalled. ''He said, `No, I cramped up. It's fine. I always cramp up.' He said, `I'm staying in the game. I want to finish this inning.' I said, `You sure you're all right?' He said, `I'm in the game!'''

The right-hander did, indeed, stay in. Even struck out the next two batters to raise his total to 12 Ks, each finished with an off-speed pitch. Strasburg took his turn silencing the Cardinals' struggling bats, Nationals postseason star Howie Kendrick doubled three times and drove in three more runs, and Washington took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS by beating St. Louis 8-1 Monday night.

''It's a little surreal,'' reliever Sean Doolittle said about being one win from the World Series, ''and I think that's why it's important that we don't look too far ahead.''

After Nationals starters Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer flirted with no-hitters in the first two games against the Cardinals, Strasburg wasn't quite that untouchable: He allowed a double in the second inning, six later singles and one unearned run.

Still, the Cardinals, quite simply, can't score in this NLCS: They have a grand total of two runs and 11 hits through three games. Washington's three starters have a combined ERA - no calculator necessary for this one - of 0.00.

Yes, that's zero-point-zero-zero.

''We expected better,'' said Kolten Wong, who went 0 for 4 on Monday and is 0 for 10 in the series for St. Louis.

Now it's Patrick Corbin's chance to see if he can match his rotation-mates. The $140 million lefty will start for the Nationals in Game 4 on Tuesday night, when they can close out a sweep at home. Rookie right-hander Dakota Hudson will be on the mound for the Cardinals.

''We've got to get a lead at some point in this series. Hard to win a game if you can't get a lead,'' St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. ''We've got to figure out a way to create some offense early in the game and be able to hold it there.''

Washington hasn't put a baseball team in the World Series since 1933, when the Senators lost to the New York Giants in five games. The nation's capital owns only one MLB championship; the Senators won all the way back in 1924. There wasn't even a baseball team at all in Washington for more than three decades until the Montreal Expos franchise moved to town before the 2005 season and was renamed the Nationals.

Until this season, the Nationals hadn't won a playoff series, going 0-4 since 2012, but they sure look as if they're making up for lost time.

''Shoot, maybe we're finally coming around,'' third baseman Anthony Rendon said.

How about this current run? The Nationals, who found themselves at 19-31 in late May, have won 15 of their past 17 games, stretching back to the last week of the regular season.

It all starts with the pitching.

''That's what our team is built around. You have those guys, those horses, that take the ball every fifth day,'' said Ryan Zimmerman, who drove in two runs. ''They haven't disappointed, obviously, in the postseason, but they've kind of been the backbone of this team all year.''

Against Sanchez in Game 1, the first hit for the Cardinals arrived with their 27th batter. Against Scherzer in Game 2, it was their 21st batter. But even when the Cardinals did something right against Strasburg, they erased it by doing something wrong.

Their fourth batter, Marcell Ozuna, doubled to the left field corner in the second, then quickly erased himself with some poor baserunning, going too far toward third on a comebacker and getting tagged out by Strasburg, who is enjoying a postseason to remember.

He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, then was infamously shut down before the playoffs three years later to protect his surgically repaired right elbow. Strasburg is now hale and hearty, throwing 117 pitches Monday, his most since totaling 118 in a May 2017 game.

And this sort of October excellence is what the Nationals were hoping for: Strasburg has a 3-0 record and 1.64 ERA, with 33 strikeouts and one walk - he didn't issue a free pass Monday - in 22 innings this postseason.

Much to the delight of a red towel-twirling crowd of 43,675, Washington's batters kept delivering, led by Kendrick, who has eight RBIs in the past four games.

The Nationals roughed up Jack Flaherty for four runs, all in the third inning; he hadn't allowed that many in a game since July 2, a span of 18 appearances.

Seven of Washington's eight runs came with two outs, and there were contributions from up and down the lineup: Victor Robles homered in his return from a hamstring injury, and Rendon heard ''MVP!'' chants after a slick defensive play and an RBI double.

''We haven't been able to play our brand of baseball in full,'' Shildt said. ''We haven't been able to get in rhythm or sync, but we still have more baseball to play.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Robles, the Nationals' center fielder, missed five postseason games with a strained right hamstring he hurt in Game 2 of the NLDS.

UP NEXT

Corbin took the loss in each of Washington's two defeats this postseason. One was a start - in Game 1 of the NLDS, when he allowed just one unearned run with nine strikeouts - and one came in relief. Corbin also came out of the bullpen to retire one Cardinals batter in Game 2 of the NLCS on Saturday.

In his only postseason start, in Game 4 of the Cardinals' NLDS against Atlanta, Hudson allowed one earned run in 4 2/3 innings and did not factor in the decision as St. Louis won 5-4 in 10 innings.

---

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Copyright 2019 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

123456789RHE
000000100170
00402110X8111
  • W: S. Strasburg (3-0)L: J. Flaherty (1-2)
  • HR: WAS - V. Robles (1)
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
D. Fowler CF40000033.061.139.091.230-1.5
K. Wong 2B40000000.167.265.267.5310.0
P. Goldschmidt 1B40000040.303.343.606.949-2.0
M. Ozuna LF40200020.333.371.6361.0082.0
J. Martinez RF41200011.667.667.7781.4442.5
Y. Molina C40100013.133.182.133.3150.5
T. Edman 3B40000023.207.258.379.637-1.0
P. DeJong SS30200000.259.310.296.6072.0
J. Flaherty P10000010.000.143.000.143-0.5
a- M. Carpenter PH10000011.083.250.083.333-0.5
T. Webb P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
J. Brebbia P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
G. Cabrera P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
b- M. Wieters PH10000012.000.000.000.000-0.5
D. Ponce de Leon P00000000.000.000.000.0000.0
  • a-struck out for Flaherty in the 5th
  • b-struck out for Cabrera in the 7th
HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
T. Turner SS40000122.263.317.421.7380.0
A. Eaton RF51110011.182.289.273.5622.5
A. Rendon 3B32210110.379.487.6211.1086.5
J. Soto LF31000122.206.308.382.6901.0
H. Kendrick 2B42330010.314.351.514.86610.5
F. Rodney P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
T. Rainey P00000000.000.000.000.0000.0
R. Zimmerman 1B40220001.333.357.556.9135.0
K. Suzuki C40100022.050.208.050.2580.0
V. Robles CF42211011.333.385.6671.0517.5
S. Strasburg P10000010.000.200.000.200-0.5
B. Dozier 2B10000000.000.000.000.0000.0
    BATTING
    • 2B - M. Ozuna (4)
    • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - D. Fowler, Y. Molina, T. Edman
    BATTING
    • 2B - A. Rendon (4), H. Kendrick 3 (4), R. Zimmerman (3)
    • HR - V. Robles
    • SH - S. Strasburg 2 (3)
    • RBI - A. Eaton (4), A. Rendon (6), H. Kendrick 3 (9), R. Zimmerman 2 (5), V. Robles
    • 2-Out RBI - A. Eaton (2), A. Rendon (2), H. Kendrick 3 (4), R. Zimmerman 2 (5)
    • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - T. Turner, A. Eaton, J. Soto, R. Zimmerman, K. Suzuki
    FIELDING
    • E - J. Soto
    PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
    J. Flaherty (L, 1-2)4.05442604.241.24-1.0
    T. Webb0.21110005.401.50-2.0
    J. Brebbia0.23220116.002.67-4.5
    G. Cabrera0.20000000.000.600.0
    D. Ponce de Leon2.02111404.501.504.0
    PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
    S. Strasburg (W, 3-0)7.071001201.640.8630.0
    F. Rodney1.00000200.001.884.0
    T. Rainey1.00000206.001.004.0
    PITCHERSIP
    S. Strasburg (W, 3-0)7.0
    F. Rodney1.0
    T. Rainey1.0
    PITCHING
    • WP - J. Flaherty (3)
    • Pitches-Strikes - J. Flaherty 78-49, T. Webb 11-8, J. Brebbia 15-12, G. Cabrera 3-3, D. Ponce de Leon 49-29
    • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J. Flaherty 5-1, T. Webb 1-1, G. Cabrera 1-1, D. Ponce de Leon 1-1
    • Batters Faced - J. Flaherty 19, T. Webb 3, J. Brebbia 5, G. Cabrera 2, D. Ponce de Leon 9
    PITCHING
    • Pitches-Strikes - S. Strasburg 117-84, F. Rodney 13-9, T. Rainey 18-11
    • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - S. Strasburg 4-5
    • Batters Faced - S. Strasburg 28, F. Rodney 3, T. Rainey 3
    PLAYERS OF THE GAME
    123456789RHE
    000000100170
    00402110X8111
    HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
    D. Fowler CF40000033.061.139.091.230-1.5
    K. Wong 2B40000000.167.265.267.5310.0
    P. Goldschmidt 1B40000040.303.343.606.949-2.0
    M. Ozuna LF40200020.333.371.6361.0082.0
    J. Martinez RF41200011.667.667.7781.4442.5
    Y. Molina C40100013.133.182.133.3150.5
    T. Edman 3B40000023.207.258.379.637-1.0
    P. DeJong SS30200000.259.310.296.6072.0
    J. Flaherty P10000010.000.143.000.143-0.5
    a- M. Carpenter PH10000011.083.250.083.333-0.5
    T. Webb P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
    J. Brebbia P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
    G. Cabrera P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
    b- M. Wieters PH10000012.000.000.000.000-0.5
    D. Ponce de Leon P00000000.000.000.000.0000.0
    Total34170001613-----
    • a-struck out for Flaherty in the 5th
    • b-struck out for Cabrera in the 7th
    HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
    T. Turner SS40000122.263.317.421.7380.0
    A. Eaton RF51110011.182.289.273.5622.5
    A. Rendon 3B32210110.379.487.6211.1086.5
    J. Soto LF31000122.206.308.382.6901.0
    H. Kendrick 2B42330010.314.351.514.86610.5
    F. Rodney P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
    T. Rainey P00000000.000.000.000.0000.0
    R. Zimmerman 1B40220001.333.357.556.9135.0
    K. Suzuki C40100022.050.208.050.2580.0
    V. Robles CF42211011.333.385.6671.0517.5
    S. Strasburg P10000010.000.200.000.200-0.5
    B. Dozier 2B10000000.000.000.000.0000.0
    Total33811813119-----
      BATTING
      • 2B - M. Ozuna (4)
      • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - D. Fowler, Y. Molina, T. Edman
      BATTING
      • 2B - A. Rendon (4), H. Kendrick 3 (4), R. Zimmerman (3)
      • HR - V. Robles
      • SH - S. Strasburg 2 (3)
      • RBI - A. Eaton (4), A. Rendon (6), H. Kendrick 3 (9), R. Zimmerman 2 (5), V. Robles
      • 2-Out RBI - A. Eaton (2), A. Rendon (2), H. Kendrick 3 (4), R. Zimmerman 2 (5)
      • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - T. Turner, A. Eaton, J. Soto, R. Zimmerman, K. Suzuki
      FIELDING
      • E - J. Soto
      PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
      J. Flaherty (L, 1-2)4.05442604.241.24-1.0
      T. Webb0.21110005.401.50-2.0
      J. Brebbia0.23220116.002.67-4.5
      G. Cabrera0.20000000.000.600.0
      D. Ponce de Leon2.02111404.501.504.0
      Total8.011883111---
      PITCHERSIP
      J. Flaherty (L, 1-2)4.0
      T. Webb0.2
      J. Brebbia0.2
      G. Cabrera0.2
      D. Ponce de Leon2.0
      Total8.0
      PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
      S. Strasburg (W, 3-0)7.071001201.640.8630.0
      F. Rodney1.00000200.001.884.0
      T. Rainey1.00000206.001.004.0
      Total9.07100160---
      PITCHERSIP
      S. Strasburg (W, 3-0)7.0
      F. Rodney1.0
      T. Rainey1.0
      Total9.0
      PITCHING
      • WP - J. Flaherty (3)
      • Pitches-Strikes - J. Flaherty 78-49, T. Webb 11-8, J. Brebbia 15-12, G. Cabrera 3-3, D. Ponce de Leon 49-29
      • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J. Flaherty 5-1, T. Webb 1-1, G. Cabrera 1-1, D. Ponce de Leon 1-1
      • Batters Faced - J. Flaherty 19, T. Webb 3, J. Brebbia 5, G. Cabrera 2, D. Ponce de Leon 9
      PITCHING
      • Pitches-Strikes - S. Strasburg 117-84, F. Rodney 13-9, T. Rainey 18-11
      • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - S. Strasburg 4-5
      • Batters Faced - S. Strasburg 28, F. Rodney 3, T. Rainey 3
      • 7TH INNING
        Zimmerman singled to left, Kendrick scored18
        DeJong singled to left, Martinez scored, Molina to second on left fielder Soto throwing error17
      • 6TH INNING
        Robles homered to center07
      • 5TH INNING
        Zimmerman doubled to shallow center, Kendrick scored06
        Kendrick doubled to left center, Rendon scored05
      • 3RD INNING
        Kendrick doubled to right center, Soto and Rendon scored04
        Rendon doubled to left, Eaton scored02
        Eaton singled to center, Robles scored01
      • 9TH INNING
        • Tanner Rainey relieved Fernando Rodney
        • J. Martinez: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Strike swinging, Martinez struck out swinging
        • Y. Molina: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Foul, Foul, Strike swinging, Molina struck out swinging
        • T. Edman: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Edman flied out to left
        • Middle of the 9th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
      • 8TH INNING
        • Brian Dozier at second base
        • Fernando Rodney pitching
        • K. Wong: Strike looking, Wong flied out to center
        • P. Goldschmidt: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Strike looking, Goldschmidt struck out looking
        • M. Ozuna: Strike looking, Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Ozuna struck out swinging
        • Middle of the 8th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
        • D. Ponce de Leon Pitching:
        • V. Robles: Robles popped out to second
        • B. Dozier: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Foul, Foul, Dozier grounded out to shortstop
        • T. Turner: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Turner walked
        • A. Eaton: Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Foul, Strike swinging, Eaton struck out swinging
        • End of the 8th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
      • 7TH INNING
        • S. Strasburg Pitching:
        • J. Martinez: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Martinez singled to shallow left
        • Y. Molina: Molina singled to shallow left, Martinez to second
        • T. Edman: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul tip, Edman struck out on foul tip
        • P. DeJong: DeJong singled to left, Martinez scored, Molina to second on left fielder Soto throwing error
        • Matt Wieters hit for Genesis Cabrera
        • M. Wieters: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Strike swinging, Wieters struck out swinging
        • D. Fowler: Strike looking, Foul, Strike swinging, Fowler struck out swinging
        • Middle of the 7th (1 Run, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)
        • Daniel Ponce de Leon pitching
        • A. Rendon: Strike looking, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Foul tip, Rendon struck out on foul tip
        • J. Soto: Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Foul, Ball, Strike swinging, Soto struck out swinging
        • H. Kendrick: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Kendrick doubled to left center
        • R. Zimmerman: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Zimmerman singled to left, Kendrick scored
        • K. Suzuki: Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Ball, Ball, Foul, Foul, Strike looking, Suzuki struck out looking
        • End of the 7th (1 Run, 2 Hits, 1 Error)
      • 6TH INNING
        • S. Strasburg Pitching:
        • K. Wong: Strike looking, Strike looking, Wong grounded out to pitcher
        • P. Goldschmidt: Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Goldschmidt struck out swinging
        • M. Ozuna: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Strike swinging, Ozuna struck out swinging
        • Middle of the 6th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
        • J. Brebbia Pitching:
        • V. Robles: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Robles homered to center
        • S. Strasburg: Strike looking, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Strasburg struck out swinging
        • Genesis Cabrera relieved John Brebbia
        • T. Turner: Strike looking, Turner grounded out to pitcher
        • A. Eaton: Eaton flied out to center
        • End of the 6th (1 Run, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
      • 5TH INNING
        • S. Strasburg Pitching:
        • T. Edman: Strike looking, Foul, Strike swinging, Edman struck out swinging
        • P. DeJong: Foul, Strike swinging, Ball, DeJong reached on an infield single to third
        • Matt Carpenter hit for Jack Flaherty
        • M. Carpenter: Strike looking, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Carpenter struck out looking
        • D. Fowler: Pickoff attempt, Fowler flied out to right
        • Middle of the 5th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
        • Tyler Webb pitching
        • A. Eaton: Strike looking, Eaton grounded out to shortstop
        • A. Rendon: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Foul, Rendon singled to shallow center
        • J. Soto: Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Soto flied out to left
        • John Brebbia relieved Tyler Webb
        • H. Kendrick: Kendrick doubled to left center, Rendon scored
        • R. Zimmerman: Strike looking, Strike looking, Foul, Zimmerman doubled to shallow center, Kendrick scored
        • K. Suzuki: Ball, Foul, Suzuki popped out to second
        • End of the 5th (2 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)
      • 4TH INNING
        • S. Strasburg Pitching:
        • K. Wong: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Foul, Wong lined out to center
        • P. Goldschmidt: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Strike swinging, Goldschmidt struck out swinging
        • M. Ozuna: Ball, Ozuna singled to center
        • J. Martinez: Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Foul, Martinez singled to shallow left, Ozuna to second
        • Y. Molina: Molina flied out to deep center
        • Middle of the 4th (0 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors)
        • J. Flaherty Pitching:
        • K. Suzuki: Ball, Ball, Suzuki singled to shallow left
        • V. Robles: Strike swinging, Strike looking, Foul, Foul tip, Robles struck out on foul tip
        • S. Strasburg: Strike looking, Strasburg hit sacrifice bunt to pitcher, Suzuki to second
        • T. Turner: Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Ball, Strike swinging, Turner struck out swinging
        • End of the 4th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
      • 3RD INNING
        • S. Strasburg Pitching:
        • P. DeJong: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Ball, DeJong grounded out to third
        • J. Flaherty: Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Ball, Strike looking, Flaherty struck out looking
        • D. Fowler: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Strike swinging, Fowler struck out swinging
        • Middle of the 3rd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
        • J. Flaherty Pitching:
        • V. Robles: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Foul, Robles singled to center
        • S. Strasburg: Ball, Strasburg hit sacrifice bunt to first, Robles to second
        • T. Turner: Pickoff attempt, Foul, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Foul tip, Turner struck out on foul tip
        • A. Eaton: Eaton singled to center, Robles scored
        • A. Rendon: Pickoff attempt, Pickoff attempt, Ball, Foul, Foul, Pickoff attempt, Foul, Rendon doubled to left, Eaton scored
        • J. Soto: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Ball, Ball, Soto walked
        • H. Kendrick: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Rendon to third, Soto to second on wild pitch, Kendrick doubled to right center, Soto and Rendon scored
        • R. Zimmerman: Ball, Zimmerman grounded out to second
        • End of the 3rd (4 Runs, 4 Hits, 0 Errors)
      • 2ND INNING
        • S. Strasburg Pitching:
        • M. Ozuna: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Ball, Ozuna doubled to left
        • J. Martinez: Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Martinez reached on fielder's choice to pitcher, Ozuna out at third
        • Y. Molina: Pickoff attempt, Foul, Molina fouled out to catcher
        • T. Edman: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Edman popped out to third
        • Middle of the 2nd (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
        • J. Flaherty Pitching:
        • H. Kendrick: Ball, Foul, Strike looking, Strike looking, Kendrick struck out looking
        • R. Zimmerman: Foul, Ball, Ball, Zimmerman grounded out to third
        • K. Suzuki: Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Suzuki struck out swinging
        • End of the 2nd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
      • 1ST INNING
        • S. Strasburg Pitching:
        • D. Fowler: Strike looking, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Fowler struck out swinging
        • K. Wong: Wong grounded out to pitcher
        • P. Goldschmidt: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Strike looking, Goldschmidt struck out looking
        • Middle of the 1st (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
        • J. Flaherty Pitching:
        • T. Turner: Turner grounded out to second
        • A. Eaton: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Eaton lined out to left
        • A. Rendon: Strike swinging, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball, Rendon walked
        • J. Soto: Ball, Ball, Ball, Pickoff attempt, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Strike looking, Soto struck out looking
        • End of the 1st (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)