The Nationals made perhaps the biggest move on Tuesday in the NL Wild Card race, despite just one of five contending teams losing.
Washington managed to pick up two wins in one day, sweeping a doubleheader against the Braves. They won the first by the skin of their noses, despite Atlanta making a late run to almost steal the victory. The Nationals scored first in the early game, putting a three-spot on the board in the first inning. They wouldn't score again until the ninth inning, however, waiting until Atlanta first took a 5-3 lead. The Nationals got two walks and a single to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth and an RBI groundout cut the lead to one. Denard Span then hit a ball that the normally sure-handed Andrelton Simmons couldn't handle, but Simmons was charged an error and two runs came around to give Washington the 6-5 walk-off victory.
The second game wasn't quite as stressful for Washington. Tanner Roark was phenomenal, twirling seven innings of two-hit ball while striking out six Braves' hitters. Steve Lombardozzi gave the Nats a lead early when he drove in Bryce Harper during the second inning. The Nationals got three more runs of support in the eighth frame, including Ryan Zimmerman's 25th homer of the year. That eased the pressure on Rafael Soriano, who gave up two hits but maintained the shutout to close out the 4-0 win in the ninth.
The Nationals trail the Reds by 4.5 games for the second wild card spot, and are just four behind in the loss column.
San Diego drew first blood, plating three runs on a Jedd Gyorko homer in the third inning. The Pirates came back to with two runs in the bottom half of the frame on a Marlon Byrd double, but that was followed by one more Padres' run. An RBI single from Tommy Medica in the seventh helped clinch the victory for San Diego as their bullpen took care of the rest.
Jeff Locke struggled for the first time since a brief demotion to the minors at the end of August. He gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks while pitching just five innings.
That loss cost the Pirates a share of the NL Central division lead as the Cardinals creamed the Colorado Rockies 11-4 to tie Pittsburgh atop the division. The first three hitters in the St. Louis lineup combined to reach base 12 times. Matt Holliday reached all five times he stepped up to the plate as he fell just a triple shy of the cycle. Over half the team's runs came in the third inning, when the Cardinals batted around with three singles, two doubles, a triple and drew a walk.
Like the Redbirds, the Reds had a big game on offense in a 10-0 win over the Astros. Jay Bruce was the star for Cincinnati, blasting a grand slam to left field and driving in five runs on the day as the Reds jumped to a 9-0 lead after just four innings. Mike Leake was equally fantastic, tossing eight innings of five-hit ball and allowing just one extra base hit.
National League Wild Card Standings
|St. Louis||88||63||.583||-||Won 1|
(updated 9.18.2013 at 1:00 AM EST)