Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats seek win No. 81 this afternoon at Nationals Park.
Jordan Zimmermann will be the man on the mound seeking that 81st team victory and his 10th individual win. He'll be up against a potent foe in Kyle Lohse, who enters with a 14-2 record a 2.64 ERA.
A friendly reminder that this game (which was originally scheduled for 7:05 p.m.) will start at 4:05 p.m. because it was picked up by Fox. That broadcast will be available to the majority of the country. You can see the map here.
Updates to come...
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 92 degrees, Wind 11 mph LF to RF
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
CF Jon Jay
1B Matt Carpenter
LF Matt Holliday
RF Allen Craig
C Yadier Molina
3B David Freese
2B Skip Schumaker
SS Daniel Descalso
RHP Kyle Lohse
HP Wally Bell
1B Mike Winters (cc)
2B Mark Wegner
3B Mike Muchlinski
4:06 p.m. -- And we're underway with a ball outside from Jordan Zimmermann to Jon Jay. 91 degrees at gametime on Sept. 1.
4:18 p.m. -- Whoa, how about that? The Nats threw out a basestealer! Kurt Suzuki with a perfect throw to second base to nail Jon Jay. Zimmermann then took care of business by striking out Matt Holliday looking at an inside fastball and then getting Allen Craig to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice.
4:36 p.m. -- Sweet Fancy Moses, the Nats did it again to the Cardinals in the bottom of the first. They just scored four runs on four hits, getting a hustle double from Bryce Harper, RBI singles from Adam LaRoche and Suzuki ... and a major assist from Holliday, who committed just about the worst error you'll ever see in the big leagues. With two outs and two on, Holliday tracked down Ian Desmond's deep fly ball to left, camped under it ... and completely dropped it. An unreal, two-run error prolonged the inning and helped the Nats open up a 4-0 lead. They've played 19 innings in this series so far, and the Nats lead 22-1. Mercy.
4:50 p.m. -- And Zimmermann immediately gives two of the runs back on a 78 mph meatball to David Freese, who finds the Red Porch to cut the lead to 4-2. Zimmermann hasn't exactly looked sharp here in the early going. He's already allowed four hits through two innings.
5:01 p.m. -- It's been a while since Adam LaRoche got to experience the feeling of crushing a ball over the fence. So there had to be something of a sense of relief when he tagged Lohse's second-inning pitch into the second deck above the right-field bullpen for his 24th homer of the season. The Nats go back up by four runs, 6-2.
5:10 p.m. -- And once again Zimmermann gives two runs right back, serving up a bomb to Holliday way back into the Red Porch. Just like that, it's 6-4 in the third.
5:40 p.m. -- Well, this game hasn't gone at all according to script. Zimmermann just got yanked with two outs in the fourth, having given all the runs back to the Cardinals and more, the biggest blow a three-run double off the right-field wall by Matt Carpenter. Craig Stammen and allowed one inherited runner to score, so Zimmermann's final line includes eight earned runs on eight hits, a walk, two hit batters and two home runs. It would be one thing if this was a blip on the radar, but this is actually becoming a trend for Zimmermann. Over his first 21 starts this season, he owned a 2.28 ERA. Over his last six starts, his ERA is 6.16. That's not the direction the Nationals want to see their presumed playoff ace headed. They now trail 8-6 in the fourth inning.
5:59 p.m. -- Things have settled down considerably here as Lohse finds his groove and Stammen stops the bleeding. It's been a long, uncomfortable afternoon at the ballpark (feels like the humidity is 200 percent) and we're only now going to the sixth inning after two hours of baseball. Still 8-6 Cardinals.
6:30 p.m. -- Wow, that was a crazy play there in the bottom of the sixth to put the Nats ahead again, 9-8, huh? First, we have to mention Espinosa's leadoff homer, cutting the lead to 8-7, his 15th blast of the season. Then after Harper drew a two-out walk off lefty Mark Rzepczysnki, Zimmerman smoked an RBI single to right off Fernando Salas. Werth scored to the tie the game, then Zim appeared to purposely get caught in a rundown between first and second bases. That allowed Harper to come all the way around to score and topple Yadier Molina. The crowd went nuts as the rookie gave the Nats a 9-8 lead in a wild ballgame that is now headed to the seventh inning.
6:44 p.m. -- Mercy, what a catch by Jon Jay to end the seventh inning. He had turn straight around to make a leaping, over-the-shoulder grab of Espinosa's drive to deep center. Even some Nationals fans stood up to applaud that Web Gem. Still 9-8 as we go to the eighth, with Sean Burnett entering from the pen.
7:02 p.m. -- Bad news: Burnett issued a leadoff walk, and wouldn't you know that guy would come around to score the tying run. Good news: Drew Storen was just asked to record the biggest out of his season (runners on second and third, two outs, Matt Holliday at the plate) and he responded by striking out the MVP candidate on three pitches, all sliders. Huge out to keep this a 9-9 game heading to the bottom of the eighth.
7:10 p.m. -- Nothin' happenin' in the bottom of the eighth. So it's onto the ninth, and Storen will return to continue pitching in a tie game. And in a surprising twist, Eury Perez is making his MLB debut in center field, with Harper shifting to right field and Werth out of the game. Wonder if Jayson's legs are tiring or something.
7:14 p.m. -- Meanwhile, the Braves just lost again. The lead is momentarily up to 7 games, and the magic number is down to 24 for the NL East title.
7:26 p.m. -- You had a feeling one of these days the Nats' inability to stop the running game was going to cost them a game. That day may be today. With one out and a man on first, Storen just let Allen Craig swipe second base without a throw. It was inexplicably ruled defensive indifference by the official scorer, but I can assure you the Nats were not indifferent to giving up that base. Sure enough, moments later David Freese singled to left, scoring Craig and putting the Cardinals up 10-9. Now the Nats are down to their final three outs.
7:29 p.m. -- The official scorer has seen the error of his ways and has correctly changed the call to a stolen base.
7:35 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. A very frustrating 10-9 loss for the Nationals, who saw their bullpen give up the tying and winning runs in the eighth and ninth innings. With the Braves' loss to Philly, the lead in the NL East remains 6 1/2 games, with the magic number down to 24.