The Nationals' quest for their first five-game win streak in 19 months will have to wait.
They fell to the Cardinals 5-3 tonight, splitting a doubleheader with St. Louis after winning 8-6 in the first game this afternoon.
Jordan Zimmermann allowed five runs on eight hits in six innings. His stuff wasn't nearly as good as it was in his loss to the Phillies last week, when he took a perfect game into the sixth inning - Zimmermann showed what he can do last week when he spots his fastball effectively, and he didn't do that quite as well tonight. It was actually his best start against the Cardinals; he'd been beaten by them twice in his first two starts, posting a 9.31 ERA in the process.
The Cardinals have hit Zimmermann hard a couple times in spring training, too - with a lineup full of veteran hitters who know how to capitalize on mistakes, they're not a great matchup for the 24-year-old. He'll get hit at times when he elevates his fastball, and that was the cause of the runs he gave up in the fifth inning tonight. Zimmermann's fastball was a couple ticks slower tonight, too, and it was just hittable enough for the Cardinals to extend some innings on him.
With the loss, the Nationals are now 9-8 for the season; they did end an eight-game losing streak at Busch Stadium earlier today, winning there for the first time since 2007. I'm not sure how great of shape their bullpen will be in tomorrow, after being responsible for seven innings today. But give Zimmermann credit for going an extra inning when he didn't have great stuff.
Tom Gorzelanny, who's got a 3.20 ERA in three career starts at Busch Stadium, stars the series finale for the Nationals tomorrow.