By Michael Marzzacco
Coming off a tough 9-4 loss in which only Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper produced runs, the rest of the Nats offense woke up on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. Thanks to a five run seventh, they routed the Cardinals 10-2 to split the four game series.
After the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, the Nats bats came alive in the fourth inning. Michael Taylor opened the inning with a leadoff double. Bryce Harper drove him in with a blooper into right field. Two batters later, Ryan Zimmerman got on base with a double that moved Harper to third. After Anthony Rendon struck out, Wilson Ramos came up and singled to right field to score Harper and Zimmerman to put the Nats up 3-1.
The Cardinals cut it to 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Rendon led off and he sent the first pitch just over the out of town scoreboard in right-center for a solo home run. The call was reviewed but it was upheld as it just cleared the fence. Ramos and Danny Espinosa followed with singles. Two batters later, Ben Revere walked and the bases were full. Jayson Werth, who had the day off, came in to pinch hit for the pitcher’s spot (reliever Felipe Rivero was up) and he smacked a grand slam over the centerfield fence that made Nats Park erupt into a frenzy. What was once a one run lead turned into a six run, 8-2 lead.
“(Pitcher Dean Kiekhefer) left a heater over the middle and I hit it out. I’ve been feeling pretty good health-wise. I was able to get some good work in today and it paid off,” said Werth.
Ramos joined the home run party in the eighth when he sent a two run homer into left field. The Nats would go on to win 10-2.
On the mound, Stephen Strasburg improved his remarkable record to 9-0 (a franchise best) as he went six innings allowing just one run on six hits while striking out four.
“I was missing a little bit on some fastballs, but it felt good coming out of the hand,” said Strasburg.
“He’s certainly earning his money,” manager Dusty Baker added. “This is big for him, for him and us. He’s been trying to figure out probably for a couple years why he’s not a big winner because he has the stuff to be a big winner.”
The Nationals hit the road to take on the Phillies for Memorial Day with first pitch at 7:05.