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Cardinals keep winning series with 4-1 finale over the Nationals

Sure, the Washington Nationals are off to a slow start. But that doesn't mean I won't gladly take two wins over them in a three-game series.

St. Louis Cardinals youngster Michael Wacha out-dueled free agent lottery winner Max Scherzer in a 4-1 win of the rubber game of the set. The Cardinals are 10-4 with the win while the Nats fell to 7-9.

Both starters made it through seven innings of work. But Wacha surrendered one run on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts while Scherzer gave up two runs on six hits with no walks with four strikeouts.

The Redbirds scored in the first when Matt Carpenter smacked the first pitch of the game for a double and then went to third when Jason Heyward blooped a single to left. Matt Holliday struck out and Matt Adams was up with two strikes when Scherzer threw a wild pitch that plated Carpenter.

The game remained 1-0 in favor of St. Louis until the bottom of the fifth when Danny Espinoza doubled to lead off Jhonny Peralta fielded a ball off Scherzer's bat and threw to Adams who was off first base. Instead of holding the runner at second or else throwing to third and getting him into a pickle, Peralta's throw to first and Adams' mental gaffe left Wacha in a first and third with no outs jam.

Denard Span singled to right to tie the game. But Wacha settled down to get out of the inning with no further damage.

With two out in the sixth Heyward singled, Holliday was hit by a pitch and Adams drove home the go-ahead run. Then in the eighth Holliday reached with a two out single and scored when pinch hitter Mark Reynolds hit a blast off the top of the wall in right center field to make the score 3-1.

Reynolds got caught off second after a wide throw to the plate in a vain attempt to catch Holliday. But the relay sailed into right centerfield and Reynolds came around to score to make the score 4-1.

Washington threatened in the bottom of the eight with a leadoff double off reliever Jordan Walden who then walked the second batter. But, after a visit to the mound, Walden coaxed a double play and then got out of the inning on a line-out to centerfield.

Trevor Rosenthal pitched the ninth and had an uneventful inning with a pair of strikeouts and a grounder to short.

Carpenter kept up his hot hitting with a double and a single to raise his average to .386 with a team-leading three home runs. Meanwhile, some of the struggling hitters are starting to come around. 

Heyward didn't hit the ball especially hard. But he got a couple of key hits to fall in and improved his average to .213 while Reynolds' double made his average .250. Adams is showing signs of life lately and improved to .233 with a hit in three trips to the plate.

Cardinals Star of the Game: Wacha who improved to 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA.

Cardinals Play of the Game: Walden's double play ball.

Lowlight: The sloppy defense that lead to the Washington run. The Cardinals have played a lot better defensively since the first week of the season. But they need to at least make the plays that should be made.