Kendrick’s clutch hit caps big third (Nats win 8-1)

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg started Game 3 of the National League Championship Series with a pair of strikeouts in the first inning, including a called third strike on a curveball to Paul Goldschmidt to end the frame.

Marcell Ozuna led off the second with a double down the left field line. Fielding a comebacker by José Martínez, Strasburg wheeled and was able to catch Ozuna off second base. Strasburg then got a pair of popups to get out of the threat.

Anthony Rendon drew a two-out walk off Cards starter Jack Flaherty in the bottom of the first. Juan Soto got to 3-0, but Flaherty then delivered three two-seam fastballs in the strike zone to get Soto and end the frame.

Flaherty had a 1-2-3 second inning, which included strikeouts of Howie Kendrick and Kurt Suzuki.

Strasburg-Celebrates-K-Blue-NLCS-Sidebar.jpgStrasburg has recorded four strikeouts through three innings.

Victor Robles singled to center field to begin the third. Strasburg sacrificed to first base to move Robles to second. Adam Eaton then drilled a chopper into right-center field to score Robles. The Nationals jumped ahead for the third straight game in the series.

Rendon golfed a shot to left field that Marcell Ozuna could not grab on the slide. Eaton hustled from first base to score. Soto walked and the runners moved up on Flaherty wild pitch.

That allowed Kendrick to be Kendrick, drilling a Flaherty offering into the right-center field gap for a double to score two runs.

Flaherty last gave up four or more runs July 2 at Seattle in a 5-4 loss in which he did not factor in the decision.

After three innings, the Nats lead the Cardinals 4-0.

Update: The Nats added two runs in the fifth thanks to back-to-back RBI doubles by Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman off of John Brebbia.

After five innings, the Nats lead the Cardinals 6-0.

Update II: Robles has not played for more than a week because of a sore hamstring. Manager Davey Martinez finally put him back in the lineup, and the young center fielder delivered again with a solo homer in the sixth.

After six innings, the Nats lead the Cardinals 7-0.

Update III: The Cardinals tallied a run in the seventh thanks to three singles and a throwing error by Soto. Strasburg struck out the side anyway, and had 12 strikeouts through seven innings.

Mid-seventh, the Nats lead the Cardinals 7-1.

Update IV: Zimmerman dropped in another run-scoring hit in the seventh. Strasburg finished seven innings, allowing one unearned run on seven hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts. He threw 117 pitches, 84 for strikes.

After seven innings, the Nats lead the Cardinals 8-1.

Update V: Tanner Rainey pitched the ninth inning for the Nats. He struck out Martínez with a 101 mph fastball for the first out, then fanned Yadier Molina on a 90 mph slider for the second out. Tommy Edman flew out to left field to end the game.

Final score: Nats 8, Cards 1.

The Nats lead the best-of-seven series, three games to none.

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