The Nationals extended their longest winning streak of the year to 4, riding a strong start from John Lannan (W, 2-1, 3.43): 5 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs; 4 double plays turned by the defense; a 3-5 day from red-hot Danny Espinosa (.292), who continued tearing things up with his second triple in as many games (2); and a crucial lead-building 8th inning home run from Laynce Nix (.286), who was 2-4 with 2 RBI (6). The bullpen was shaky for the Nats however, with Chad Gaudin (7.04) continuing his struggles, allowing 3 unearned runs in 0.2 innings. Doug Slaten (0.00) came into the 6th inning to try and close it out, but allowed 2 of those unearned runs to score. Fortunately for Slaten, his ERA remains at 0.00. And after some more shakiness by the middle of the bullpen—namely Sean Burnett (3.24) who’s been slumping recently; he gave up 1 run on 3 hits in 0.2 innings—Drew Storen (0.77) got another save, his second, in 1.1 scoreless innings. Storen cleaned up Burnett’s mess with 2 outs in the 8th, ending the inning with one pitch. It seems as though Storen has come back from his Spring Training troubles and has begun to evolve into the elite closer we believed he’d be when we drafted him 10th overall in the 2009 draft.
The game, which was scheduled to be played on Tuesday, was delayed until Wednesday afternoon due to tornado warnings. It was the first half of the Nationals’ second straight double header.
For St. Louis, starter Jake Westbrook (L, 1-2, 9.82) had an early exit—he left after the third inning after allowing 7 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks; 6 of those runs were in the 3rd. Former closer Ryan Franklin (9.45), who is having a bafflingly bad start to 2011, gave up one run on one hit—Nix’s home run—and a walk in 2 innings of work. Possible future National Albert Pujols (.254) was 2-4 with a solo homer (5) and 2 RBI (12), and Colby Rasmus also homered (3) and had 3 RBI (8) for the Cardinals.