Several Nationals played key roles in Friday’s 3-1 win over the Cardinals.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon hit a solo shot to give the Nationals an early 1-0 lead. He talked about the win and the curveball that Michael Wacha threw him, which resulted in the first run of the game.
“It was a good win. Obviously, they are a tremendous team. They got the best of us in the past. We are trying to change that,” Rendon said. “He has a pretty big curveball. I think he left a little bit up. I was just trying to put a good swing on it.”
Rendon felt it was a meaningful win after the 8-0 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday.
“Tremendous, especially coming off of last night,” he said. “That is in the past. We got 100 more games to go, somewhat, we are just trying to take it one day at a time. ...
“It’s baseball. I feel like you have to have a short memory. Especially as a position player, you are going to fail seven times out of 10 most likely. You have to stuff it in the past pretty quick.”
With two men on and one out, reliever Drew Storen recorded outs against Matt Holliday and Allen Craig in the eighth inning.
“You got two great hitters right there. So guy is in scoring position, you just want soft contact. We went in on him, got a little sink, worked out,” Storen said.
“I went two-seamer in there, so that way if you miss over the plate you got a little bit of movement to hopefully help you out. He is a good hitter. He is going to attack you early, especially guys in that position. It is about trying to miss that barrel.”
Storen agreed that this one meant a bit more after the Nats lost eight straight to St. Louis dating back to 2012.
“Any time you can beat a team like that, you are going to be excited about it because it is never easy to beat those guys,” Storen said. “Late in the game, they are grinding it out. They are a tough team all around. Any time you can get one from those guys, it is a good night.”
Storen addressed the call that went the Nats’ way in the eighth.
“Nothing goes as planned down there. That is kind of the fun part about it,” he said. “So you are always on your toes no matter what. You get the adrenaline going a little bit changing it up. Any time you can save another guy’s run, that is pretty fun.”
Shortstop Ian Desmond talked about the wild pitch and subsequent error by catcher Yadier Molina that turned into a pair of decisive runs for the Nationals in the seventh, giving them a 3-1 lead.
“Yadi is smart,” Desmond said. “They obviously watched the games in Miami. They know he is going fastballs. He has got a good changeup, Wacha. I was kind of anticipating the third baseman playing off the bag. I could get a little bit better secondary (lead).
“You never expect Yadi to let one get away. I saw it bounce off a little bit, I said we’ve got to take a chance here. Fortunately for us, it worked out.”
Desmond also discussed the game-ending double play turned by the Nats after all the fielding issues in Thursday’s loss.
“It was tough, but (Rafael) Soriano fielded the ball clean and got a good throw,” Desmond said. “They just practiced that today. Unbelievable job by our pitchers, (Tyler Clippard) knocked one down, was able to recover and get the out at first. Storen comes in, does an unbelievable job. Gio (Gonzalez) pitched his butt off. Just a well pitched game, well played game.”
Gonzalez, the winning pitcher, said it meant a lot to beat St. Louis.
“We played great as a team, that was it. We all did our job,” he said. “Defense looked great. The bullpen came in and shut it down. One of those games that collectively we all did great together, especially against a great team like the Cardinals. They had a strong pitcher today on the mound and they had a strong lineup. We needed it. We needed to bounce back. Just an all-around great win.”
As for his own start...
“As a starting pitcher, you want to go as deep as you can in a game, give your guys a chance to go out there and compete at the top level,” Gonzalez said. “It was nice to see Clippard and Drew and Sori. Matt (Williams) did a great job just controlling the game and putting the guys where we needed.
“I couldn’t have done it without the defense and Jose Lobaton behind the dish. These guys did a great job calling the game, kept mixing it up. I was just trying to go out there and be aggressive again with these guys, especially with a lineup like this. You put anyone on base, they are going to make sure there is damage.”
Gonzalez was aware he was facing a strong opposing pitcher in Wacha.
“Like Wacha, you have to go out there and try to match him up,” Gonzalez said. “He is just a tough guy to beat. You could see his ball was coming at you firm. Just one of those guys that is fun to watch, but at the same time it is part of baseball.
“You got to go out there and try to keep it together and keep your team back in the dugout. Let them go out there and compete against a guy like that. We just had to slow steps. That is what happened. We managed to pull one through.”
What was Gonzalez’s plan of attack?
“I wanted to go out there and try to be aggressive with these guys,” he said. “That is a lineup that if you load them up or you give them a chance, they will definitely do damage. I was fortunate to get out of the first inning and the fourth inning where I got into a little bit of trouble.
“It was one of those games where you didn’t want to let up, especially against Wacha. Wacha is a tough guy to beat. We got very fortunate to go out there and compete at the top level, especially the way we were playing.”