On a Sun-splashed afternoon in St. Louis, the Washington Nationals won their first playoff game in their history, and the first playoff game for Washington since 1933, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 Sunday afternoon.
The Nationals overcame a wild outing from their Cy Young contender Gio Gonzalez, worked out of a bases loaded-nobody out jam in the seventh, and left the bases loaded twice. However, the Nationals made pitches when they needed them and got hits in timely fashion to grab a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning. Tyler Moore's two-out, two-strike single to right field off of Cardinals reliever Mike Rzepczynski scored Michael Morse and Ian Desmond to give the Nationals the lead on a day where the Nationals did not play their best game.
Gonzalez walked five cardinals hitters in the first two innings and got in real trouble in the second. With an early 1-0 lead, Gonzalez walked the bases loaded in the second frame with one out and then threw a wild pitch that advanced all the runners, including Yadier Molina who scored, tying the game at 1-1. A Jon Jay sacrifice fly then scored Daniel Descalso, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
The bottom of the seventh was the turning point in the game when Jon Jay reached on Adam LaRoche's error. The next batter, Carlos Beltran then singled off of Craig Stammen and Matt Holliday was hit by a Stammen pitch next to load the bases with nobody out.
Manager Davey Johnson then turned to Ryan Mattheus, who incredibly in two pitches got out of the jam. Mattheus got Allen Craig to ground to Ian Desmond at short who threw out Jay at home plate. One pitch later, Mattheus (1-0) got Molina to ground into a double play to retire the side with no runs scoring.
In the top of the eighth, an error by shortstop Pete Kozma helped Michael Morse reach. Ian Desmond then singled off of set-up man Mitchell Boggs (0-1) with Morse getting to third. Danny Espinosa then sacrificed Desmond to second. Boggs then struck out Kurt Suzuki for the second out. In what one could only say is a questionable move, manager Mike Matheny took out his set-up man for Mike Rzepczynski when Chad Tracy was announced to hit for Mattheus. Johnson then quickly pitch-hit Tracy for Tyler Moore who got the clutch, game winning hit.
Tyler Clippard looked good in the eighth inning and Drew Storen only needed 10 pitches to close it out for Washington's first playoff win in 79 years.
Notes: Shadows wrecked havoc with hitters through out the day at Busch Stadium as many players complained they could not see the baseball at the plate. Bryce Harper went 0 for 5 in his first playoff game as a pro. Jayson Werth made a spectacular catch in right field in the sixth inning, robbing Daniel Delcalso of a home run. Jordan Zimmermann faces Jaime Garcia this afternoon in Game 2 of the series.
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