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Nationals-Cardinals Preview

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Nationals-Cardinals Preview

The Washington Nationals hardly looked like postseason newcomers while grinding out a close win over the defending World Series champions.

The Nationals now seek to head home with a commanding lead in their NL division series, and Jordan Zimmermann will try to help by overcoming a rocky history against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 on Monday.

Making the franchise's second playoff appearance and first since 1981, Washington calmly rallied for a 3-2 victory Sunday. The Nationals shut out the Cardinals after the second inning and worked their way out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the seventh before Tyler Moore drove in the tying and go-ahead runs on a two-out, pinch-hit single in the eighth.

"Not many people have probably watched too many Nationals games, but we have a great starting rotation and a great bullpen," said shortstop Ian Desmond, who had three singles and scored a run. "They keep us in the ballgame and some timely hits from this kid, and the rest of the guys coming off the bench, that's really been the formula."

Washington will try to head into the first postseason game in the nation's capital since 1933 with a 2-0 lead in the series, and Zimmermann (12-8, 2.94 ERA) is looking to aid that cause by avoiding another miserable performance against St. Louis. He's 0-2 with a 9.12 ERA in five career matchups with the Cardinals, easily his worst showing against any opponent.

St. Louis tagged Zimmermann for a career-high eight runs over a season-low 3 2-3 innings Sept. 1 in Washington, although the right-hander was better at Busch Stadium in his final regular-season start Sept. 29, allowing three runs over 6 1-3 innings in the Nationals' 6-4, 10-inning victory.

The hitters on the Cardinals' playoff roster are a combined 26 for 69 (.377) against him with Yadier Molina going 5 for 11.

"It's going to be tough to shut them completely down," Zimmermann told the Nationals' official website. "They are going to get their runs, but you've just got to keep it to a minimum and try to get out of jams as best you can when you're in a tight spot."

While Zimmermann, who went 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA over his final five starts, will be making his postseason debut, Jaime Garcia (7-7, 3.92) will pitch in his sixth playoff game since the beginning of last October. He went 0-2 with a 4.21 ERA in five starts during the Cardinals' championship run, but the worst of those came on the road and he allowed only six runs over 21 2-3 innings in St. Louis.

"It definitely helps a little bit because you've been out there in a situation like we are right now," he said. "You take what you learned from last year, but you know, I'm just going to try to do the same thing that I try to do every time I go out there. I just give my best and give my team a chance to win. That's all I basically worry about."

Like Zimmermann, Garcia also ended the regular season with some momentum, prevailing in three straight starts and putting up a 2.10 ERA over his final four. He's 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his last four home outings.

Garcia, though, gave up six runs and nine hits over 5 1-3 innings in his only matchup with Washington this season Aug. 30. The left-hander's start at Nationals Park was his third following a stint on the 60-day disabled list with a sprained throwing shoulder.

"It's one of those things where they had a really good lineup and a really good team, and made a couple mistakes and paid the consequences," he said.

Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Jayson Werth and Michael Morse have four hits apiece off Garcia, going a combined 16 for 40 (.400).

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Nationals place Ryan Madson on 10-day DL

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Nationals place Ryan Madson on 10-day DL

Ryan Madson is the latest Washington National headed to the DL, turning the team's relief pitching rotation upside down even more than it already is. 

According to MASN's Dan Kolko, the 37-year-old is nursing a "lumbar nerve root irritation" injury and will sit out for 10 days. 

In response, the team has named Koda Glover as the closer, who was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse Wednesday. 

Glover gave up a game-ending solo blast to the Cardinals' Kevin DeJong Monday night. 

The night before, Madson was on the other end of David Bote's walk-off grand slam in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Cubs. 

As for Tuesday night, Glover's status remains unknown

 

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Back-to-back walk-offsNationals walked off again, this time by Cardinals' Paul DeJong

Zim is sizzlin' hot: After standout performances, Nationals' 1B Ryan Zimmerman named NL Player of the Week

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Nationals walked off again, this time by Cardinals' Paul DeJong

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Nationals walked off again, this time by Cardinals' Paul DeJong

ST. LOUIS -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez was awake most of the night after Washington lost on a walk-off grand slam Sunday.

He likely won't be catching up on that missed sleep Monday.

Paul DeJong handed the Nationals their second straight walk-off loss, capping a back-and-forth finish with a game-ending solo homer in the ninth inning of the St. Cardinals' 7-6 victory Monday night.

DeJong took Koda Glover (0-1) deep leading off the ninth on a 3-1 pitch. A night earlier, Ryan Madson allowed a game-ending ninth-inning grand slam to the Chicago Cubs' David Bote in a 4-3 defeat.

"I don't sleep most nights, I like to watch replays of the game," Martinez said. "And last night was no different."

Washington's bullpen has blown saves in three of its past four games. All-Star closer Sean Doolittle has been on the disabled list since early July, and top setup man Kelvin Herrera went to the DL with right rotator cuff impingement last week.

"I don't know what else to do," Martinez said of the bullpen.

The usually stoic DeJong wasn't quite sure how to celebrate his first career walk-off homer. He started calm, keeping his head down as he rounded the bases. After coming around third, though, he whipped his helmet into the grass, threw his arms down and bellowed out a roar.

"My first walkoff, it felt so good I had to do something a little different," DeJong said.

The Cardinals recorded their 10th walkoff of the season and DeJong became the sixth different player to end a game in grand fashion.

"They're all special, all emotional," St. Louis interim manager Mike Shildt said. "These guys have the mentality, `Do your job, keep the line moving.' They have a lot of trust with each other."

The Cardinals have won six in a row and moved to nine games over .500 for the first time this season.

DeJong's 380-foot drive ended a wild final two innings.

Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko homered in the eighth inning to put St. Louis up 6-4. Gyorko started the rally with a leadoff drive, and Carpenter followed with a three-run homer off Sammy Solis.

The Nationals tied it at 6 in the top of the ninth on RBI singles by Daniel Murphy and Matt Wieters off closer Bud Norris. Dakota Hudson (3-0) relieved Norris and stranded two baserunners by retiring Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton.

Juan Soto and Bryce Harper homered for the Nationals, who have lost five of seven.

Gyorko sparked St. Louis' big eighth inning with his homer off Justin Miller. Kolten Wong and Patrick Wisdom then singled to set up Carpenter's 33rd homer. Carpenter has homered in seven of his past 10 games. He extended his major-league leading on-base streak to 31 games with a first-inning bunt single. He has 17 homers during that string.

Harper won a 10-pitch battle with starter Miles Mikolas by drilling his 29th homer leading off the fourth to lead 2-1.

Ryan Zimmerman added a run-scoring double in the second for the Nationals.

Jose Martinez had four hits for the Cardinals.

Mikolas gave up four runs on four hits over seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Tommy Milone started for Washington and gave up two runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings.

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