Nationals pad lead
WASHINGTON—Edwin Jackson had the St. Louis Cardinals swinging at pitches in the dirt so often that catcher Jesus Flores ended up with three assists throwing the ball to first after strikeouts.
Jackson fanned 10 in eight stellar innings last night as the Washington Nationals padded their NL East lead with an 8-1 win over the punchless Cardinals.
Bryce Harper hit his third home run in two games while Jayson Werth homered for the first time since May for the Nationals, who opened an 11-game homestand with an overwhelming performance against a wild-card contender that failed to score an earned run for the third-straight game.
The news was worse for the Cardinals afterward when shortstop Rafael Furcal was concerned he might have suffered a season-ending injury while making a pair of throws in the sixth inning.
“It’s bad,” said Furcal, who was diagnosed with a strained right elbow and was to have an MRI today.
The victory moved the Nationals 5.5 games ahead of the idle Atlanta Braves.
Washington’s recent five-game losing streak has tightened the race again, but Johnson’s team has come out of the funk with 16 runs in two games, led by the top-of-the-order tandem of Werth and Harper.
A day after his first career two-homer game, Harper hit a drive so hard that it short-hopped the back wall of the Nationals’ bullpen and bounced all the way back over the right-field fence.
Harper added an RBI single in the sixth.
Jaime Garcia (3-6) allowed six runs over 5 1/3 innings for the Cardinals, whose streak of 28 scoreless innings came to an end when Nationals’ third baseman Ryan Zimmerman launched a throw well over the first baseman’s head in the eighth inning, allowing a runner to score from second on the error.
St. Louis, now with a half-game lead in the race for the NL’s second wild-card spot, was shut out in back-to-back games by Pittsburgh before arriving in Washington.
The Cardinals last went three-consecutive games without scoring an earned run in 1992.
“Nothing we can put our finger on,” said Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny.
“No explanation at this point.”
Elsewhere in the NL, Philadelphia nipped New York 3-2, Chicago topped Milwaukee 12-11, San Francisco doubled Houston 8-4, and Arizona blanked L.A. 2-0.