Game Report: Nationals 7, Cardinals 2

By Rob Rains


Two of the pitchers named to the National League All-Star team were on the mound Sunday night at Busch Stadium. One of them pitched like an All-Star; the other did not.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals the one who didn’t look the part was Carlos Martinez as the Cardinals lost his anticipated duel with St. Louis native Max Scherzer of the Nationals.

Bryce Harper hit a pair of two-run homers in his first two at-bats off Martinez, giving Scherzer all of the support he needed.

Martinez, named along with Yadier Molina to represent the Cardinals at the July 11 game in Miami, was lifted for a pinch-hitter after allowing five runs in five innings.

Scherzer allowed just two hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out 12. He faced 24 batters and the two hits allowed lowered the batting average by opponents against him this season to .159.

The loss snapped the Cardinals’ winning streak at four games and was only their second loss in the last eight games, with both of those losses coming in games started by Martinez.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The only two hits by the Cardinals off Scherzer were a leadoff single by Greg Garcia in the third and a pinch-hit single by Luke Voit in the fifth against his fellow St. Louis native. Voit is now 3-for-3 as a pinch-hitter since being called up from Memphis … The only runner to reach third against Scherzer was Tommy Pham, who reached on an error leading off the fourth, but he was stranded when Randal Grichuk struck out to end the inning … With Scherzer out of the game the Cardinals were finally able to score on a two-run homer by Pham in the eighth, his 10 of the season, in his 52nd game … Molina was 0-of-4 as his hitting streak was snapped at 16 games. He has three streaks of that length in his career, two this season.

On the mound: Martinez came into the game having allowed only one run in his last 26 innings at home, covering his last three starts. The Nationals topped that total three batters into the game when Brian Goodwin hit a leadoff double and Harper homered with one out … Harper hit another 2-run homer in the third, when the Nationals also got an RBI double from Anthony Rendon … Harper came into the game 0-of-3 in his career against Martinez with three strikeouts … Martinez allowed seven hits and walked four … The Nationals scored their final two runs in the seventh off Mike Mayers.

Key stat: The Nationals/Expos have not shut out the Cardinals in St. Louis since July 4, 1995 when the Expos’ Pedro Martinez allowed just four hits in a 5-0 victory. Sunday night was the 76th game for the franchise in St. Louis since that game.

Worth noting: This is the second All-Star selection for Martinez, the eighth for Molina, who will back up the Giants’ Buster Posey. Martinez was named to the team in 2015 but did not pitch … The only other Nationals player to hit two homers in a game in St. Louis since the franchise moved from Montreal was Ryan Zimmerman on Sept. 2, 2015 … The Cardinals signed several international free agents on Sunday despite being restricted to not giving out bonuses of more than $300,000. The Cardinals also traded some of their cap space to the Red Sox and Blue Jays, acquiring three lower-level minor leaguers in exchange … The team officially announced the signing of eighth round draft pick Wilberto Rivera, a right-handed pitcher from Puerto Rico, who received a $350,000 bonus. The Cardinals have signed all of their picks through the first 30 rounds of the draft except for 18th round choice Shane McCarthy, a right-handed pitcher from Seton Hall who is expected to return to school.

Looking ahead: The Marlins will be in St. Louis to open a four-game series on Monday night. Adam Wainwright will pitch against Jeff Locke in the 6:15 p.m. game.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains