ST. LOUIS - Given a chance to clinch the division title in his hometown, Ross Detwiler did not bring his A-game to the table.
Detwiler has allowed five runs through two innings, walked four hitters and served up a two-run homer to Carlos Beltran.
The Nationals trail the Cardinals 5-0 after two.
Detwiler pitched a scoreless first inning, but fell apart in the second. He walked the first two hitters he faced, then got an awful break when Danny Espinosa booted a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play ball, allowing Daniel Descalso to reach and load the bases with none out.
Pete Kozma made the error sting by dropping a double down the line in right, bringing in two runs. A nice relay from Jayson Werth to Espinosa to catcher Kurt Suzuki cut down Descalso at the plate, but the Cardinals tacked on three more when Jon Jay poked an RBI single into left and Beltran followed by ripping a 1-2 pitch into the Nats' bullpen.
Only one of the runs in the second inning was earned, but still, Detwiler and the Nats are in a big hole early on.
Detwiler's body language got progressively worse as that inning went on, and he got visits from both Suzuki and pitching coach Steve McCatty to try and calm him down.
This outing isn't a wash yet. Chien-Ming Wang got up in the bullpen in the second but has since sat down, and Detilwer still has time left to try and salvage this thing.
Update: That time is up. Detwiler has been pulled after allowing a walk and a single in the third.
Wang came in to relieve him, and his first two pitches went to the backstop, bringing in a run. He then allowed a sacrifice fly to Kozma, making it a 7-0 game.
The final line on Detwiler: 2 1/3 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 5 BBs, 3 Ks.
Barring a shocking comeback, the champagne will be shipped back to D.C.
Update II: Well, well, well. The Nats have made this a ballgame, coming through with four runs in the fourth.
A solo homer from Bryce Harper (his 22nd), an RBI double by Ian Desmond and a two-run shot to right from Espinosa have cut the Cardinals' lead to 7-4.
The Nats had a chance to stay after Lance Lynn, who was on the ropes, but Davey Johnson let Wang hit with one on and two outs instead of going to a pinch-hitter. Wang struck out, ending the inning.
Bringing Wang into a five-run game when the division title is on the line was an interesting call, but leaving him in to hit in a three-run game seems even a bit more strange.
Update III: Johnson left Wang in the game to pitch the fourth, and he promptly walked the leadoff hitter and served up a two-run shot to Beltran, making it a 9-4 game.
Not a great relief appearance by the veteran righty, to say the least.
Update IV: The Braves beat the Mets 6-2, meaning that unless the Nats come back here in St. Louis, the celebration will be on hold for at least one more day.
Update V: That's the ballgame. The Nats lose 10-4, leaving their magic number at one as they head home.
The Nats went 3-3 on this road trip, and have gone 7-9 in their last 16. They'll close out the regular season with three games against the Phillies, with John Lannan taking the ball tomorrow in the series opener.