Thursday’s Game Report: Nationals 2, Cardinals 1

Thursday’s Game Report: Nationals 2, Cardinals 1

The Cardinals gave several of their regulars the day off for the final game of their four-game series Thursday in Washington, which left them able to call on Paul Goldschmidt to pinch-hit with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning, trailing by a run.

What could have been a dramatic moment ended abruptly, however, when Goldschmidt was called out on a questionable checked swing to end the threat.

It was one of 13 strikeouts by the Cardinals, who were 1-of-7 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base as their five-game winning streak was snapped.

Dakota Hudson was the tough-luck loser as an error by Yairo Munoz, playing shortstop, led to both of the Nationals’ runs in the fourth inning. It was only the second loss for the Cardinals in their last 12 games.

The start of the game was delayed by rain for more than 2 ½ hours.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: With Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong out of the starting lineup for the first time this season, Matt Carpenter moved to first base and hit third, going 0-of-3 with a walk, dropping his average to .196 … Munoz had three hits and scored the Cardinals’ only run on a single by Kolten Wong, hitting leadoff, in the third … Jedd Gyorko had two hits as he got the start at third base and Matt Wieters made the start behind the plate, going 1-of-3, but he also was picked off when he wandered too far off second base in the third … Tyler O’Neill started in right field in place of Jose Martinez and struck out in all four of his at-bats, including with runners on first and second with just one out in the eighth … DeJong struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, snapping his 11-game hitting streak.

On the mound: Hudson allowed just four hits over the first six innings, walked two and had a career-high seven strikeouts … Dominic Leone struck out four in 1 2/3 innings of relief before Tyler Webb relieved and got the final out in the eighth  … The Cardinals pitchers allowed just two solo homers, both off Adam Wainwright, in the four-game series.

Key stat: This was Mike Shildt’s 100th game since taking over as the Cardinals’ manager July 15 of last year. Even with the loss, he has the second-best record for his first 100 games of any manager in Cardinals’ history at 61-39. The only manager with a better record in his first 100 games was Hall of Famer Bill McKechnie, who was 64-36 in 1928, when the Cardinals won 95 of 154 games before losing the World Series to the Yankees. McKechnie also had managed the Pirates for the four previous seasons.

Worth noting: The Cardinals traded catcher Francisco Pena to the Giants on Thursday for cash. Pena, who was playing at Memphis, will join the Giants’ Triple A team … Carpenter’s last home run came on April 17 and he has just one extra-base hit, a double, in his last 43 at-bats … O’Neill also struck out four times in a game last season. He has struck out 18 times in 38 at-bats this season … Former Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist was fired from the same job by the Nationals after the game.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals and Cubs meet for the first time this season in a three-game series beginning on Friday at Wrigley Field. Jack Flaherty will get the start in the 1:20 p.m. game, followed by Michael Wacha on Saturday and Adam Wainwright on Sunday night. Since the start of the 2013 season the Cardinals have gone 57-57 against the Cubs.

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