Rendon’s solo blast gives Nationals early advantage (Span update, Nats win 3-1)

Third baseman Anthony Rendon gave the Nationals their first lead and first run of the series with a solo homer in the third inning.

Rendon went after the first pitch, a curveball, from Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha and launched it into the St. Louis bullpen, well over the wall in left-center. It was Rendon’s third homer of the season and the Nationals lead 1-0.

Nats left-hander Gio Gonzalez held St. Louis scoreless for the first three innings. The Cardinals got men on first and second with two outs in the first inning on a walk to Jhonny Peralta and a base hit by Allen Craig. Yadier Molina’s long drive to left fell short of the wall and was caught by Bryce Harper for the final out of the inning.

Update: The Cardinals quickly answered the Rendon homer in their next at-bat. Craig doubled and Molina singled with one out in the fourth against Gonzalez. Mark Ellis’ first base hit of the season, a RBI single to right-center, knotted the game at 1-1. Gonzalez struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam.

Update II: Down on the farm, Denard Span (concussion) got three at-bats for Hagerstown in his second rehab game in as many nights. He went 1-for-2 with a walk, one RBI and was lifted in the third inning for pinch-runner Rafael Batista.

Update III: The Nationals recorded back-to-back singles to begin the bottom of the seventh off of Wacha. Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond hits put men on first and second. Danny Espinosa reached first on a bunt when Wacha fired the ball to third to try to get LaRoche and Matt Carpenter dropped the ball, loading the bases with no one out.

With one out, Jose Lobaton’s swinging grounder was fielded by Wacha, who tossed the ball home to get LaRoche for the second out.

Then with pinch-hitter Zach Walters at the plate, Wacha uncorked a wild pitch. The ball dribbled up the first base line, was fielded by Wacha, but his throw home could not be handled by Molina, allowing Desmond and Espinosa to score, and the Nationals led again, 3-1.

Gonzalez finished seven innings, allowing one run on four hits, striking out seven and walking only one. Wacha also went seven innings, allowed three runs, one of which was earned, on five hits, no walks and seven strikeouts.

Update IV: Drew Storen came on in the eighth to stop a Cardinals rally attempt. After Tyler Clippard registered one out, but surrendered a double and a walk, Storen was able to induce a weak popup to first base from Matt Holliday and Craig grounded out to short to end the frame. The Nationals still led 3-1.

Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his fourth save. He got Molina on a hot-shot grounder off his own leg, but walked Mark Ellis. Then Shane Robinson grounded into a double play to end the game.

The Nationals ended an eight-game losing streak to the Cardinals with a 3-1 victory.

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