Burnett gives up lead for second straight day (Nats win 4-3)

Sean Burnett is still in the midst of a career season.

He'd just prefer to forget the last 2 1/2 weeks.

After an appearance on August 10, Burnett had a 1.81 ERA. He hadn't given up a single run and had allowed just three total baserunners over his previous 10 appearances, spanning nine innings.

Since then, things have turned for the worse.

Burnett has a 7.50 ERA over his last eight appearances, but even more concerning are the number of baserunners he's allowed. Of the last 35 hitters Burnett has faced over a six-inning span, he's retired just 17.

He's now given up a Nationals lead in back-to-back games. Yesterday, Burnett surrendered a one-run lead by giving up a pinch-hit single to Carlos Beltran in the eighth. Today, it was a two-run home run to Daniel Descalso with two outs in the seventh, turning a 2-0 Nats lead into a tie game.

Descalso was hitting just .219 with three home runs on the season coming into today.

Stephen Strasburg now will leave today with a no-decision and the Nats will have to start from scratch as they try and take the series finale against the Cards.

Update: Burnett might be breathing a sigh of relief in the clubhouse right now.

The Nats immediately followed the Cardinals' two-run seventh inning with two runs of their own in the bottom-half. They strung together four straight hits, all with two outs, to take a 4-2 lead going to the eighth.

Ian Desmond delivered the first big knock, sending a 2-2 pitch to center to bring in pinch-runner Eury Perez with the go-ahead run. Danny Espinosa then followed with an RBI single of his own, scoring Chad Tracy, who chugged around from second.

Espinosa was thrown out trying to advance to second on the play, but the damage had already been done. The Nats have the lead back and are six outs from a series win.

Update II: The last two games of this series have been nuts.

Back-to-back doubles by David Freese and Tony Cruz in the eighth have cut the Nationals' lead to 4-3. Ryan Mattheus retired pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter to end the top of the eighth, but it's just a one-run game as we go to the bottom of the eighth.

Update III: Tyler Clippard notched his 29th save of the season with a perfect ninth inning, and the Nats held on for a hard-fought 4-3 win.

They take three of four from the defending World Series champs and move to seven games up on the Braves in the NL East for the time being.

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