An early fielding mistake hurt the Nationals again.
In the top of the second with one out, Allen Craig walked. Jhonny Peralta grounded to third base and Anthony Rendon attempted to get Craig at second and start a double play. But his throw to second baseman Danny Espinosa was offline and both runners were safe. Rendon was charged with his first error of the season. It was the league-leading 20th error committed by the Nationals this season.
Tony Cruz followed with a two-run single, and the Cardinals led 2-0. Starting pitcher Lance Lynn added a RBI double down the right field line and St. Louis extended its lead to 3-0.
Denard Span led off the Nationals first with a single in his first game back from concussion symptons. He last played April 11.
Update: Reaching the middle innings, the Nationals have managed only three hits off Lynn. Ian Desmond’s sharply hit single with two outs in the second was other base knock. Sandy Leon walked to start the third, but Lynn got three quick outs to end the possible threat.
In the fourth with two outs, Rendon slapped a clean single to right field. But Desmond struck out to end the inning.
The Nationals have had a baserunner in every inning, but but hanven’t gotten one into scoring position. Lynn has a pair of strikeouts, one walk and has induced five groundouts.
The Cardinals lead 3-0 after four innings.
It is also a crisp, cool April Saturday and there is a huge crowd on hand. Don’t forget next Sunday is the first bobblehead giveaway. On April 27 against the Padres, there will be 25,000 bobbleheads given away featuring today’s starting pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann’s likeness. The bobbleheads will be available at all gates this season: center field, left field, right field, third base and home plate.
Update II: Danny Espinosa led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo homer over the wall in right center field. It was his first homer since May 5, 2013 at Pittsburgh, and came on a 2-1 pitch from Lynn. The Cardinals’ lead was trimmed to 3-1.
Update III: The Nationals looked again for a rally in the seventh. After one out, Werth singled and Adam LaRoche walked. But Lynn got Rendon handcuffed on a called third strike for the second out. Desmond walked to load the bases. The Cardinals lifted Lynn for left-hander Kevin Siegrist, who got Espinosa to fly out to deep center to end the threat.
Kevin Frandsen replaced Bryce Harper in left field to open the top of the seventh. Harper had been running carefully all week on a tight left quad, which forced him to miss a game in Miami. We will update the reason as soon as we can.
The Cardinals picked up an insurance run in the seventh on a RBI single by Holliday, pushing their advantage to 4-1.
The Nationals got back-to-back doubles from LaRoche and Rendon in the eighth off of Carlos Martinez to again cut into the Cardinals lead, 4-2.
Update IV: Trevor Rosenthal got the first out in the ninth, but then allowed a walk to pinch-hitter Zach Walters. Span hit a hot shot that hit Rosenthal, who threw to second for the force as Walters slid in safely. Rosenthal was called for a balk with Frandsen at the plate, putting the tying run in scoring position.
Frandsen grounded out to third, scoring Walters to cut the lead to 4-3, and Span moved to third.
After a called first strike, Werth swung and missed at two 99 mph four-seam fastballs to end the game. Rosenthal earned his fifth save, but it wasn’t easy.
The Nationals’ rally falls just short and Cardinals win 4-3.