As fast as the Washington Nationals rose to the top of the National League East this year, they could be booted out of the postseason just as quickly. The NL East champions were shutdown by St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park, losing 8-0 in game three of the NLDS. The Nationals, the team that finished with the best record in baseball, now trails the NLDS two games to one, and are on the brink of elimination.
Carpenter, who missed almost the whole regular season because of shoulder surgery and who did not even have a win in the regular season, looked just like the ace the Cardinals have missed all season. Carpenter (1-0) threw five and two thirds scoreless innings, only yielding seven hits and striking out two.
The Washington Nationals bats again were stymied by Cardinals pitching. Bryce Harper went 0-for-5 and is now batting .067 for the series. Adam LaRoche went 0-for-3 and is batting .091. The Nationals left 11 men on base.
Game three was very similar to game two as Cardinals hitters were jumping on ineffective Nationals starting pitching. Starter Edwin Jackson (0-1) was wild and did not have command of his fastball early and the Cardinals took advantage.
Already up 1-0, the second inning started as the Cardinals got a four straight hits, including a 3-run home run from Pete Kozma, increasing the Cardinals lead to 4-0 after two innings. David Freese had two doubles and scored. Slugger Matt Holliday went 3-5, including a 2-RBI single in the eighth inning that capped the score at 8-0.
Jackson went five innings against the team he won to the World Series with last year, giving up four runs on eight hits in the loss.
This is not how the Nationals envisioned things working out for their first playoff series since moving to Washington. They have only scored seven runs and have left a whopping 30 men on base in three games. The bullpen has not performed, posting a 6.92 ERA after Wednesday.
Game 4 is Thursday afternoon with Ross Detwiler (10-8) trying to extend the season for the Nationals, going against the Cardinals Kyle Lohse (16-3).
Notes: Lohse was the winner pitcher in the winner take all wild-card game. Detwiler will be making the first postseason appearance of his career. Frank Robinson, the Nationals first manager, threw out the first pitch. The 45, 017 in attendance was a Nationals Park record. Tomorrow's game begins at 4:07 p.m.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Suskind, 2012
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