August 1, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 68 Review: Nats Miss Key Opportunities, Fall to Cards 5-2

It’s a safe bet the Washington Nationals are ready to leave Busch Stadium.

Doug Fister struggled in what amounted to the Nats’ 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday afternoon. Oddly enough, the Nats’ bats weren’t completely silent. The offense rounded up eight hits on the night, including five against St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia (W, 3-0).

What failed to help Washington’s chances, however, was the fact that the offense stranded 10 base runners and went just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Fister retired the side in the first before allowing a lead-off single to Allen Craig in the second. The next batter – Matt Adams – homered on an 84 MPH cutter to put the Cardinals up 2-0 early. Fister gave up two more singles in the inning – to Jon Jay and Tony Cruz – but pitched out of the inning without allowing additional runs to score.

That only held true until the next half-inning, however, when Matt Holliday hit a solo shot to make it 3-0.

In the top of the fifth, the Nats were handed a bit of luck. Danny Espinosa hit a lead-off single and took second on a wild pitch. Both Sandy Leon and Fister failed to advance Espinosa but, after Anthony Rendon walked, Nate McLouth hit a two-out single to keep the inning alive with the bases loaded.

Much to the Nats’ fortune, Jayson Werth drew a walk to bring home Espinosa and trim the Cardinals’ lead to two runs.

That is, until the bottom of the inning.

Kolten Wong led off with a triple and came home on a sacrifice fly by Holliday to make it 4-1 St. Louis.

In the seventh, the Nats called upon Ross Detwiler to relieve Fister, but the move didn’t stop the Cardinals from tallying another run.

With two outs, Holliday walked and came home on a double by Allen Craig to make it 5-1.

The Nationals only earned back an additional run – in the top of the ninth – with Jason Motte on the mound.

With two outs, Leon singled, allowing pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs to keep the inning alive with a single of his own. The Cardinals then called upon Trevor Rosenthal, who gave up a single to Rendon to load the bases. And, despite the clear opportunity to make things interesting, LaRoche could only muster a walk to plate the run before Werth popped out to first to end the game.

With the loss, the Nationals fall into a tie with the Miami Marlins for second place in the NL East.

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