Thursday’s Game Report: Nationals 11, Cardinals 6

Thursday’s Game Report: Nationals 11, Cardinals 6

By Rob Rains

Even when you do something 324 times, as Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina were reminded on Thursday, it’s not always going to be perfect,

Wainwright and Molina tied the major-league record for starts by a pitcher-catcher combination in the Cardinals’ game against the Nationals, but did not get the souvenir they wanted most for the day – a victory.

Despite Molina hitting two homers – matching his season total – the game was tied at 4 when Wainwright left after five innings. The Nationals scored seven runs off the bullpen to take away some of the joy from Wainwright and Molina’s big day.

More than 15 years after they made their first start together on April 6, 2007, Wainwright and Molina tied the record set by Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan of the Tigers between 1963 and 1975.

“It is special to do it with him,” said Molina, who has announced that he will retire after the season.

Added Wainwright, “It’s been a good run. He’s an incredible teammate and friend and partner in crime. We’ve been together for a long time. We’ve got to finish strong. Nobody celebrates tying anything … maybe they do a little bit, but you celebrate more when you win.”

If the current schedule remains intact, Wainwright and Molina will break the tie on Sept. 14 at home against the Brewers.

Wainwright hopes that start will go better than his last two, when he allowed a combined eight runs and 18 hits over 10 innings.

“My delivery stinks,” Wainwright said. “The good thing is I know what I need to work on. I’ve got to fix some things … When you play for a long time you go through all these things. I’ve had to fix these things hundreds of times before.”

Molina did his best to try to get a win for Wainwright and the Cardinals. He had not hit a home run since May 15 when his two-run shot in the second inning put the Cardinals up 3-1. After the Nationals regained the lead, Molina’s home run leading off the bottom of the fourth tied the game at 4-4.

It was the ninth two-homer game of Molina’s career. His first came 15 years ago, on Aug. 16, 2007 – in a game started by Wainwright. Molina also became the third catcher in major-league history to hit two homers in a game at age 40 or older, joining Carlton Fisk and Rick Dempsey.

As excited as they are about their record for most games started by a pitcher and catcher combination, both Molina and Wainwright are motivated more by the Cardinals’ drive towards the NL Central title and another trip to the postseason. The duo has combined for 14 October starts in their careesr and are looking forward to adding to that total.

“We’re in good position, we’re having fun,” Molina said.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Brendan Donovan reached base five times on three hits and two walks, scoring twice … Paul Goldschmidt drove in his 109th run of the season in the first inning, but then left seven runners on base in his next three at-bats … Corey Dickerson drove in the other two runs in the ninth … Tommy Edman had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games … Ben DeLuzio got the first hit of his career while Alec Burleson walked and scored a run while going 0-of-4 in his major-league debut … Albert Pujols was hitless in five at-bats … Lars Nootbaar didn’t start but pinch-hit in the sixth and stayed in the game, going 0-of-2. He has two hits, both home runs, in his last 28 at bats … The loss snapped a 14-game winning streak for the Cardinals when they hit at least two home runs.

On the mound: Wainwright needed 92 pitches to get through the five innings as he stranded six runners, four in scoring position … The Nationals did more damage against four Cardinals’ relievers who allowed the seven runs on just nine hits … The 18 hits tied the second most the Cardinals have allowed in a game this season.

Key stat: From opening day through the end of August, Molina posted a .200 average with two homers and 12 RBIs. In five games in September, Molina is 9-of-18 with three doubles, two homers and seven RBIs.

Worth noting: The last Cardinals catcher to hit a home run at the age of 40 or older was Walker Cooper, who hit three homers when he was 42 in 1957 … Tyler O’Neill was in Thursday’s original lineup but was scratched because of a stiff neck … Burleson became the 13th player to make his major-league debut this season for the Cardinals … The Cardinals announced that Goldschmidt is the team’s nominee for MLB’s Roberto Clemente award.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals will be in Pittsburgh for the weekend for a three-game series beginning Friday night. Miles Mikolas will get the start in the opener.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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