The Cardinals finally won a game against a lousy team Friday night when they played the Nationals in a second of a four-game set.
But the were extremel fortunate to come away with a victory. A casual observer might have found it difficult to tell which team was fighting for the playoffs and which one was 20 games under .500.
The Cardinals were outhit 12-7 and needed several minor miracles for starter Jaime Garcia to get through 5 1/3 innings without allowing a run. The rookie surrendered 12 hits and four walks in his brief outing and loaded the bases three times only to get out of the jams. It was his cheapest victory of the season, his 12th. But Garcia has been robbed of wins when he pitched very well. So I guess it sort of all evens out.
Cardinals leftfielder Matt Holliday launches his 22nd homer of the season Friday against the Nationals. AP photo.
Albert Pujols hit his 35th homer of the season with two outs in the first to give the Redbirds a 1-0 lead. The Cardinals scored a pair of runs on two errors in the third. First, Garcia reached on a Washington miscue and Jon Jay drove him in. Later Allen Craig -- who oddly batter leadoff -- scored when Matt Holliday reached on an error.
Holliday homered in the eighth to make the score 4-0 and the Nationals hit a matching solo shot in the bottom of the eighth to make the score 4-1. And then it got interesting. Suddenly shaky Ryan Franklin came in to close out the game in the bottom of the ninth and gave up a double to the first batter he faced. The next hitter skied a long fly and the runner on second moved up to third. Franklin unleashed a wild pitch to make the score 4-2, but the bases were clear and he had one out. So maybe things would settle down, right?
Of course not. He struck out Adam Dunn, but then gave up a triple to rightfielder Michael Morse to bring the tying run to the plate. But that wasn't the situation for long. Franklin walked that potential tying run -- leftfielder Roger Bernadina -- to bring the winning run to the plate in the form of Ivan Rodriguez. Fortunately Pudge grounded out. But things were much hairier than they needed to be.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Holliday was 2-for-4 with a homer, a run scored and two runs batted in.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Pujols' go ahead homer in the first.
Lowlight: Franklin's iffy save.