The Nationals and Cardinals have played six innings.
Seventeen runs have been scored in that time. Five pitchers have been used. Those six innings have taken a whopping 2:22.
The Nats led 4-0 and 6-2. The Cardinals then led 8-6. Now the Nationals have the lead yet again, after a three-run sixth inning put them up 9-8.
The play which gave the Nationals the lead was as strange as this game has been as a whole.
With Jayson Werth at second, Bryce Harper at first and two outs in the sixth, Ryan Zimmerman laced a single to right. Allen Craig’s throw home was too late to get Werth, so catcher Yadier Molina threw down to second to cut off Zimmerman, who was about halfway between first and second.
Knowing he was trapped, Zimmerman slammed on the brakes, and with shortstop Daniel Descalso occupied with Zimmerman, Harper saw an opening. He took off from third base and slid into home just as Descalso’s high throw got to the plate.
Harper was safe, Nats Park exploded and the Nationals had the lead back.
Zimmerman probably didn’t mean to get trapped in the rundown, but he did the smart thing by extending the play once he saw he was stuck, allowing Harper to scamper home. As for the rookie outfielder, his speed and aggressiveness made that play happen. I’m really not sure anyone else in the Nationals’ starting lineup scores if they’re in Harper’s spot on that play.
It’s now up to the Nationals’ bullpen to hold a lead and keep this game from getting even more wild than it already is.
Update: It gets wilder.
Carlos Beltran’s pinch-hit RBI single off Sean Burnett in the eighth inning has made this a 9-9 game.
Burnett allowed a leadoff walk to Shane Robinson, and after a sac bunt moved Robinson to second, he came around on Beltran’s single to center.
That was the third time in Burnett’s last six outings that he’s allowed an earned run. While the left-handed reliever has been excellent for much of the season, he’s been scuffling lately, and hasn’t pitched a 1-2-3 inning since August 10.
Update II: The Cardinals jumped ahead in the ninth, and again, the Nationals’ inability to hold baserunners came back to bite them.
Craig singled leading off the top of the ninth, then stole second without a throw. Drew Storen then surrendered an RBI single to David Freese, giving the Cards the lead in this back-and-forth affair.
Harper, Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are due up as the Nationals’ last hope in the ninth.
Update III: That’ll do it. The Nats drop Game 3 of this four game series, 10-9. They twice blew a four-run lead and also surrendered a one-run advantage in the eighth.
The Braves lost, so the Nats’ lead in the NL East remains 6 1/2 games.