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Preview: Nationals at Cardinals

GAME: Washington Nationals (66-64) at St. Louis Cardinals (85-46)
DATE/TIME: Tuesday, September 01 – 8:15 PM EST
WHERE: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
LINE: 135, -146 N/A TOTAL: N/A

The Washington Nationals have stumbled through a disappointing second half of the season marked by a string of tough losses, but Monday’s defeat against the St. Louis Cardinals may have been the most crushing blow of all. The Nationals look to rebound from an 8-5 loss when they continue their three-game series against the host Cardinals on Tuesday night.

Washington was unable to protect a two-run lead in the seventh inning en route to the setback that dropped the team 6 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets in the National League East. The Nationals received somewhat of a break when St. Louis had to scratch 13-game winner Carlos Martinez from his scheduled start Tuesday night due to tightness in his back. The streaking Cardinals have won eight of nine games to open a five-game lead over Pittsburgh in the NL Central and become the first team in baseball to reach 85 wins. St. Louis has won eight in a row at home versus Washington since losing Game 1 of the NL Division Series in 2012.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Washington), FSN Midwest

PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Joe Ross (5-5, 3.24 ERA) vs. Cardinals LH Marco Gonzales (NR)

Ross has won his last two starts with a pair of stellar performances, limiting San Diego to one run on one hit over six innings his last time out and holding Milwaukee to one run over seven innings in his previous turn. Prior to those victories, he failed to get through five innings in consecutive road starts, losing both and giving up nine runs in 8 2/3 innings. He has made five starts away from home, going 1-3 with a 4.90 ERA.

Gonzales, who went 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA and made 10 appearances (five starts) with St. Louis a year ago, will be promoted from Triple-A Memphis to make his season debut. A first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2013, the former Gonzaga product has alternated poor and solid outings in five starts this month, pitching beyond five innings only once in that span. He struggled with his control as a starter last year and walked 21 batters in 34 2/3 innings.


1. Cardinals CF Jason Heyward had a tiebreaking two-run double Monday and is 7-for-13 with four RBIs and five runs scored in the last three games.

2. Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman has four homers and 15 RBIs in his last eight games.

3. Cardinals rookie OF Stephen Piscotty has 11 RBIs during his eight-game hitting streak.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 5, Nationals 4