WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: Michael Wacha #52 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) By Greg Fiume
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals warms up before the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) By Greg Fiume
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on April 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) By Greg Fiume
(BaseballStL) – It was the pitching duel people expected as Michael Wacha looked to improve on teammate Adam Wainwright’s beautiful 2-hit complete game shutout Thursday night. But, in a role reversal, the Cardinals made three errors to give the Washington Nationals the win Friday.
The Nationals committed four errors in Thursday night’s 8-0 win for the Redbirds, but two errors in the seventh gave the Nats the lead and they would hold on from there.
Despite the loss, manager Mike Matheny was pleased with Wacha's performance.
"That's one of the better pitched games we've seen from him and he's thrown some really good ones," Matheny said, "Watching him get down and make really good pitches in tough situations and having the stuff to get out of that spot."
"[It] just didn't work today."
Heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Cards were tied 1-1 after a Nationals homer from Anthony Rendon in the third and then Mark Ellis registered his first RBI as a Cardinal in the fourth.
Wacha allowed two runners on with no outs when Danny Espinosa laid down a bunt. Wacha threw a bullet that Matt Carpenter couldn’t handle, loading the bases. After a strikeout to Nate McLouth, on three 94 mph fastballs, Wacha was able to field a swinging bunt to get the force out at home. But the Nats would not be denied as Molina couldn’t handle a pitch that scored two runs on the second error of the inning.
"How many times can you count Yadi's had balls bounce on him and he's as good as anybody I've ever seen as far as keeping the ball in front," added Matheny, "Ball slid out to the side, it's going to happen. Today was one of those times that's very rare."
The Redbirds best chance at tying the game came in the eighth, but they were unable to capitalize on a lead-off double from Jon Jay.
One bright spot for the Cards was the performance of closer Trevor Rosenthal in the bottom of the eighth. Rosenthal retired all three Nationals batters, Rendon, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth with 15 pitches. Twelve of those pitches were fastballs and of those 10 were thrown between 95-97 mph.
The Cardinals will turn to Lance Lynn in Saturday’s matinee game against Jordan Zimmerman in the third game of the four game series.