Cardinals vs. Nationals score: Anibal Sanchez flirts with no-hitter as Washington takes NLCS Game 1

The Washington Nationals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLCS on Friday, 2-0, to take the lead in the best-of-seven series. The story of the night, without a doubt, was Anibal Sanchez. The veteran right-hander -- often overlooked in favor of his more famous rotation partners -- was the Game 1 starter by default, and boy did he deliver. Sanchez was just four outs away from recording the third no-hitter in postseason history.

Here's a quick recap of what happened in Game 1.

Why the Nationals won

Anibal Sanchez carried a no-hitter into the late stages of the game, not giving up his first base knock until there were two outs in the eighth inning when Jose Martinez lined a single to center. Sanchez did walk a batter and hit two before that point, but he befuddled the Cardinals with good location and crafty pitching. The Nationals also received more clutch hitting from Howie Kendrick -- he scored the first run after leading of the second inning with a double, then later plated Adam Eaton in the seventh with a single. As for the Nationals' bullpen, they had Sean Doolittle record a four-out save on a night when they were without the services of Daniel Hudson (paternity leave).

Why the Cardinals lost

It's hard to win a game if you can't hit or get on base. The Cardinals were shut out of the run and hit column for most of the game, all but wasting whatever production they received from Miles Mikolas and their pitching staff. (Mikolas, by the way, recorded a quality start before handing it over to a bullpen that mostly held its own against a good Nationals lineup.)

Turning point

When Sanchez took the mound? We guess you could point to Kendrick's double in the second, or perhaps his run-scoring single in the seventh. Alternatively, you could say Jose Martinez's single to break up the no-no in the eighth. But the answer is that Sanchez suppressed the Cardinals' offense in a way that meant anytime he was on the mound it was a "turning point" in a sense.

Highlight of the Game

Ryan Zimmerman made a terrific diving stab to retire Tommy Edman for the first out in the bottom of the eighth, temporarily preserving the no-no. Take a look:

That certainly meets the "highlight" criteria that most (though not all) no-hitters require. Alas, it just wasn't meant to be -- not on this night.

What's next

The Nationals and Cardinals will play again on Saturday afternoon. Game 2 will begin shortly after 4:00 p.m. ET. Max Scherzer will take the mound for the Nationals, while Adam Wainwright takes the ball for the Cardinals, hoping to pull the Red Birds even in the series. Should Wainwright and the Cardinals fail, the Nationals will head home for three games with a 2-0 lead.

Below, you can relive the game with our live blog.

Relive Game 1

We were with you the whole game, providing analysis and reaction to the game's best moments. If you're having trouble viewing the live blog, please click here.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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