(The Sports Xchange) - Ryan Zimmerman homered twice but his one-out RBI double in the top of the eighth proved to be the most decisive hit as the Washington Nationals held on for a rare win in St Louis, edging the Cardinals 4-3 on Wednesday.
Zimmerman’s liner down the right field line scored second baseman Anthony Rendon, who worked an eight-pitch walk from reliever Jonathan Broxton (1-4) to start the eighth and reached second on a sacrifice bunt by center fielder Matt den Dekker.
“That was vintage Zim,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Zimmerman’s double. “He’s seeing the ball really well and swinging the bat really well.”
Zimmerman homered four times in the series and has seven in his last nine games, giving him 16 for the year and 200 for his career.
Asked why he’s been on such a tear of late, Zimmerman refused to give a reason.
“I’d rather not talk about it,” he said. “I’d rather keep going out there and doing it. The most important thing is the win.”
The win being something Washington (67-65) finally salvaged after blowing 5-3 leads late in each of the series’ first two games.
This time, the bullpen finally made an advantage stick, with rookie Rafael Martin (1-0) earning his first big league win by getting the last out of the seventh.
Drew Storen fanned the side in the eighth and closer Jonathan Papelbon worked around a pair of singles in the ninth, whiffing center fielder Tommy Pham and inducing a game-ending bounce-out from second baseman Kolten Wong to bag his 23rd save.
St Louis (86-47) lost for just the second time in 11 games despite out-hitting the Nationals 16-8, managing only two hits in 14 at-bats with men in scoring position and stranding 13 runners, seven in scoring position.
The Cardinals touched Washington ace Max Scherzer for 11 hits over six innings but dented the plate just twice. Scherzer walked none and fanned 10, often pumping his fastball three or four mph faster once men reached base.
“He’s a totally different pitcher with men on base,” St Louis first baseman Brandon Moss said.
“With no one on, he’ll give you a pitch to hit. But with guys on base, he won’t give you a pitch to hit. You just try to hang around and hope he’ll make a mistake, and he doesn’t make many.”
Editing by John O'Brien