Monday’s Game Report: Nationals 6, Cardinals 0

Monday’s Game Report: Nationals 6, Cardinals 0

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals got about what they hoped to get in Jack Flaherty’s return to the rotation on Monday as he allowed only one run over five innings.

It was what they didn’t get from the bullpen or the offense, however, that was disappointing in the loss to the last-place Nationals, a team 40 games under .500, in the opener of a four-game series at Busch Stadium.

Cardinals relievers had not allowed an earned run in their previous 25 innings before the Nationals scored four times off Andre Pallante and Chris Stratton in the sixth to turn the 1-0 game into a 5-0 advantage.

The offense managed only three hits as the Cardinals were shut out at home for the first time since July 14. The loss and Milwaukee’s win at Colorado cut the Cardinals’ division lead to 7 ½ games over the Brewers. It was only the third loss for the Cardinals at home since the All-Star break.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: An infield single and walks to Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado loaded the bases for the Cardinals with one out in the first inning but Albert Pujols struck out and Corey Dickerson flew out … Their only other hits were a single by Yadier Molina in the fifth and an infield single by Tommy Edman in the eighth … They had only one at-bat after the first inning with a runner on second base … Pujols flew out twice and grounded out in his other three at-bats.

On the mound: Flaherty had to pitch around a lot of traffic as he allowed six hits, walked one and hit a batter. The Nationals put their leadoff hitter on bas in four or his five innings but Flaherty was able to limit the damage by allowing just one hit in nine at-bats with a runner in scoring position, stranding seven runners, five of them on either second or third … Pallante retired only one of the six hitters he faced, giving up four hits and walking in a run … Stratton allowed two inherited runs to score after relieving Pallante with the bases loaded …The final Washington run came on a home run off James Naile.

Key stat: Despite being 23 over .500 for the season, the Cardinals are just 14-17 against the NL East. Their only winning record is against the Marlins (4-2) while they are .500 against the Nationals (2-2) and have a losing record against the Braves (3-4), Mets (2-5) and Phillies (3-4).

Worth noting: The Detroit News reported on Monday that Cardinals’ executive Matt Slater is one of three candidates under “heavy” consideration to become the next general manager of the Tigers. Slater has been a key figure in the Cardinals’ front office for 15 years and currently is a special assistant to the GM for player procurement. The News said the search for Al Avila’s replacement is “moving close” to completion, with a decision expected in the next couple of weeks … Optioning Dakota Hudson to Memphis to open a roster spot for Flaherty will allow Hudson time to make two starts for the Triple A club and return to start one of the games in a makeup Sept. 17 doubleheader against the Reds. The move also allows the Cardinals to keep both Jake Woodford and James Naile in their bullpen. Hudson’s first start will be on Tuesday night … To open a spot on the 40-man roster, reliever Junior Fernandez was designated for assignment … Juan Yepez is expected to be recalled from Memphis on Tuesday.

Looking ahead: Jose Quintana will get the start on Tuesdaynight in the second game of the four-game series.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.