The Nats went up 1-0 in the top of the second. Jordan Zimmermann had a flawless inning in the bottom of the first and the Cardinals' Jaime Garcia looked quite shaky on the hill. Dreams of an easy series for the Nats danced in their supports' imaginations.
The bottom of the second changed the course of the series. Zimmermann gave up four consecutive hits which eventually resulted in four runs. He gave up another one in the form of an Alan Craig homer in the third. Davey Johnson had enough and took Zimmermann out. That opened the flood gates. Craig Stammen gave up another two runs in the fourth, giving the Cardinals a 7-1 lead.
Christian Garcia pitched an inning and two thirds fairly effectively. Mike Gonzalez gave up a Carlos Beltran homer (one of two he hit) in the 6th, which followed consecutive homers by Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche.
That was how the game worked out. Whenever the Nats exhibited any sprinkle of magic, the Cards swatted them down like Brian Urlacher in that Xfinity commercial. With two on in the top of the seventh and no outs, Zimmerman flew out to left scoring Jayson Werth. But Bryce Harper was thrown out trying to advance to third after Matt Holliday performed a bizarre throw. Harper was trying to get to third with fewer than two outs, a shrewd play that backfired badly.
With the score 8-4, St. Louis put the game away for good with four in the eighth. The final score was 12-4, trying the series at one. But the Cardinals did not dominate as much as the score suggests. Pete Kozma grabbed two extra bases with aggressive base running. John Jay added another. Both Jayson Werth and Michael Morse bobbled balls in the outfield. Danny Espinosa committed an error. All of these plays were responsible for St. Louis runs.
Harper's base running blunder may have taken away a run. John Jay made a stellar running catch and crashed into the wall on a ball smacked by Espinosa, which, perhaps, could have saved at least a run. The Nats simply didn't show their customary focus. The one exception has been Ian Desmond who has had a coming out party thus far in the postseason.