Nationals vs. Cardinals score: Washington takes 2-0 NLCS lead as Max Scherzer silences St. Louis

The Washington Nationals are heading back to Washington with a 2-0 NLCS lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nationals won Game 2, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium behind a dazzling start from Max Scherzer.

Let's take a look at Game 2. 

Why the Nationals won

Similar to Game 1, the Nationals pitched excellently and got a timely hit. Max Scherzer was completely dominant from the get go, as he struck out the side in the first inning. He had all three pitches working and when he does that, he stomps around the mound like a madman and you can just feel that he's not going to give anything up. 

As it turns out, he almost didn't. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Paul Goldschmidt broke it up with a leadoff single. Scherzer would work seven scoreless innings, giving up just the one hit while striking out 11. If you missed the game, he looked every bit as dominant as his final line suggests. 

Offensively, the Nationals got a solo shot from Michael Taylor to start the scoring. 

And later they tacked two on. We'll get to that. 

Why the Cardinals lost

They are not hitting. You can credit the Nationals pitchers -- and rightfully so -- all you want, but it's time for the Cardinals batters to put on their big boy pants and hit the ball. They have gotten one run on four hits through two games, and it should be zero runs on three hits. Jose Martinez's "RBI double" in the eighth inning Saturday was a misplayed ball by Taylor in center and should have been caught. It breathed life into Busch Stadium with the tying run at the plate, but Dexter Fowler harmlessly popped up the very next pitch to end the inning. 

Bottom line: The Cardinals can look ahead at their ace starting Game 3 and feel like they'll get a good start, but they've squandered two excellent starts in this series because they can't hit. 

Turning point

Even with the Cardinals displaying such a lackluster offensive output, a 1-0 lead can turn at any time. As the saying goes, a bloop and a blast is all they'd need to win the game. Matt Adams' pinch hit single -- he should have been running and had a double, by the way, so please get as angry as you did at Ronald Acuna -- was the turning point. Trea Turner followed with a Texas Leaguer, setting up what would be the dagger ... 

Highlights of the game

Adam Eaton put the game away with this two-RBI double. 

Eaton also made a nice leaping catch. 

OK, so part of it was him getting a poor jump, but it's tough to read liners right at you, as Taylor showed us later that inning. 

What's next

Game 3 takes place Monday at 7:38 p.m. ET in Nationals Park, where it'll be rocking. Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty gets the ball, but again, they'll need to hit. Going up against Stephen Strasburg and his 1.32 career postseason ERA means that'll be tough for an offense that seems pretty broken right now. The Nationals are back to having two good relievers in Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson, too. 

It's an uphill battle for the Cardinals. Road teams that take a 2-0 series lead in a best-of-seven series are historically 23-3. That's without the context that Strasburg and Patrick Corbin are coming in the next two games. 

Relive Game 2

We were with you the entire way updating this story with the latest scores, highlights and analysis from the game. If you are unable to view the live updates below, please click here.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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