ST. LOUIS — Becoming the first St. Louis Cardinals pitcher to record at least 10 strikeouts in a postseason game since Bob Gibson in 1968 did little to temper Adam Wainwright's disappointment.
Wainwright fanned 10 but got a no-decision in the Washington Nationals' 3-2 victory over the Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Division Series before 47,078 at Busch Stadium.
Gibson, the Hall of Famer, also fanned 10 in a 10-1 victory over Detroit in Game 4 of the World Series on Oct. 6, 1968, in Detroit.
The only history Wainwright cared about was the loss to Washington, which puts the Cardinals in almost a must-win situation in Game 2 of the best-of-five series at 3:37 p.m. Monday.
"For the most part, I felt like I went out there and competed my tail off and gave everything I had," said Wainwright, who exited after permitting one run on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"I was feeling good. My fastball command kind of left me there towards the end. I was running my pitch count up higher than I wanted to for that amount of innings."
Wainwright wasn't economical, expending 100 pitches to record 17 outs, but he was in line for the victory until the Nationals scored a pair of unearned runs in the eighth against Mitchell Boggs.
Tyler Clippard then blanked the Cardinals in their eighth, despite a leadoff throwing error by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
Drew Storen threw a perfect ninth for the save, giving the Nationals their first postseason victory since the franchise moved from Montreal in 2005.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Wainwright was a tad off from his opening pitch.
"He wasn't as fine as when he's having his best games," he said. "His breaking ball really bailed him out and kept them off-balanced --and had a lot of swings and misses and some chases and strikeouts with the breaking ball. He made the pitches when he had to and kept us right there in the game."
With the exception of his lacking command of his fastball, Wainwright said his stuff was "pretty sharp." Nine of his 10 strikeouts were on curveballs.
"I felt good on the mound, felt comfortable, felt like I was going to execute," he said. "I certainly can take my team deeper into the game. ... I would like to go deeper in the game, no doubt."
The Cardinals managed just two scant runs --and one hit --against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who walked seven in five innings.
St. Louis had the bases loaded with no outs in the seventh against Craig Stammen, looking to add to its 2-1 lead.
But Ryan Mattheus relieved and needed two pitches to escape the jam. Allen Craig grounded into a forceout and Yadier Molina bounced into a 5-4-3 double play.
"We have a very solid back end of our bullpen, so I was still very confident we were going to win that game," Wainwright said.
But the Nationals, who twice left the bases loaded, got a two-run single from rookie Tyler Moore in the eighth against Marc Rzepczynski, pinning the loss on Boggs.
The Cardinals stranded 10 on the bases and were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"Maybe, yeah," Wainwright said. "But it's a tough team over there and they capitalized when they needed to. We didn't when we needed to. (But) we'll take our chances going into the eighth or ninth inning with our guys every single time. They just played a good two innings and you tip your hat to them. They did a good job."
Wainwright said the Cardinals can overcome the defeat. He and some of his teammates talked about being in a similar situation twice last year en route to a World Championship.
"We did that against Philly. We did that against Milwaukee," Wainwright said. "We were down 4-0 in Game 2 in Philly and ended up beating Cliff Lee.
"This team is not hanging its head. We can come back and win this series easily. (Washington) played a good game, a 3-2 game. It was a good baseball game and the crowd was great. They kept us in it. We'll come back and show up tomorrow ready to play."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.