WASHINGTON • There was no six-run comeback, no ninth-inning uprising, no Pete Kozma single, no Daniel Descalso smash off Ian Desmond's glove.
In the Cardinals first return to D.C. since their historic rally to win Game 5 of the National League division series there was only a one-run lead and the ever-shifting fates and roles of the Cardinals' bullpen.
Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and finally Edward Mujica put the finishing touches on a 3-2 win against Washington on Monday night.
Mujica, the Cardinals' current closer, worked a perfect ninth to grab his second save of the season.
Kelly fished started Shelby Miller out of trouble in the seventh inning -- with a little help from center field Jon Jay (see below). Miller struck out eight on his way to 3-1 for the season. The Nationals got two runners on base and the tying run into scoring position against Rosenthal in the eighth inning. But when a single would do, shortstop Ian Desmond took a mighty hack at a 97-mph fastball for strike two.
He then took a 98-mph fastball for a called third strike to end the inning and the last of the Nats' rallies.
Kelly appears and Jay's catch keeps Cards ahead
Joe Kelly made his first appearance in a game in a week -- and only his third appearance since April 3 -- but with deft help from center field Jon Jay he made it a valuable appearance.
Kelly entered in the seventh inning with the tying run at second base and the go-ahead run at first base. He had one out to get. He had a one-run lead to protect.
When he left the mound the Cardinals still led, 3-2.
Kelly came in to face pinch-hitter Chad Tracy and got the lefthanded-hitting veteran to loop a shallow liner into right-center field. The hit would have likely scored two runs. It at least would have tied the game. Jay came racing in from center to make the sliding catch that instead ended the inning.
The Cardinals broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning when Yadier Molina drive home Matt Holliday. Holliday had reached base to open the inning when Washington starter Dan Haren plunked him with a pitch.
Kelly's hold for Miller allowed the rookie to end his evening with two runs allowed on four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
He struck out eight.
Rookie Rendon's double ties the game, 2-2
The first time he took a swing during his fourth-inning at-bat, Nationals rookie Anthony Rendon tried to hold up just enough that his batting helmet jostled and fell in front of his face.
The next time he connected for a career first.
Rendon's first career major-league hit led to his first career major-league RBI and the combination was good enough for a 2-2 tie tonight at Nationals Park. Rendon's second was the second of back-to-back doubles by he and shortstop Ian Desmond. With a fly ball that center field Jon Jay couldn't close on, Desmond drove home Jayson Werth for the Nats' first run of the game. Desmond and Rendon traded places to tie the game.
Werth's infield single was the first hit allowed by Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller. It could have gone as an error.
Pete Kozma went into the hole at shortstop to field the ball and he made a strong throw to first base and hopped right at Allen Craig. But it handcuffed the Cardinals' first baseman and he wasn't able to keep his grip on the ball and it fell to the ground. Werth was safe on the play.
The back-to-back doubles both came with two outs in the fourth inning.
Craig's double puts the Cards ahead, 2-0
For the past several days, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has spoke each day about how he could see Allen Craig's swing coming around. The timing was there. The weight shift was there. The pitch recognition was there. The contact was there.
The hits just weren't there. Not yet.
What started as a few singles in Philly continued into a double this evening at Washington. Moved up to No. 2 order in an attempt to goose the Cardinals' offense with a new look to the lineup, Craig doubled in two runs in the third inning for a 2-0 lead on the Nationals and pitcher Dan Haren.
Pete Kozma, as Pete Kozma is apt to do in Washington, got a single to right field that sparked the rally. Kozma was booed by the Nationals faithful when he came to the plate. He provided the game-winning hit that knocked the Nationals out of the playoffs last year. He said Sunday in Philly that this would be the first time in his ballplaying career -- even going back to Oklahoma prep days -- that he was booed during an at-bat.
Kozma's flare to right was followed by a sac bunt by Shelby Miller and a walk to leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter.
Craig connected for a shot to the wall in center field, right up against the #NATITUDE branding on the center-field wall. Center fielder Denard Span jumped and appeared to get some of his glove on the ball, but he couldn't hold on to the ball and it fell for a two-base hit.
Miller retired the first seven batters he faced. He walked Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the third inning for the only baserunner he's allowed through three scoreless innings.
Adams a sudden scratch with oblique soreness
The plan when Mike Matheny arrived at the ballpark on Monday afternoon was to sit Carlos Beltran because of the veteran switch-hitter's sore back that caught him last night after the fourth game in Philadelphia.
Matt Adams was going to start in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Allen Craig was going to play right.
All was set.
And then "we've had some issues," Matheny offered when he sat down in the dugout to talk with the Cardinals' media pack.
During some pre-game work in the cage -- fresh off a workout in the weight room -- Adams felt a tightness on his right side, a discomfort that shot through his oblique. Adams wasn't available, but Beltran insisted to Matheny and the trainers that he was OK. Matheny said he had 20 different lineups written out and 20 different considerations when it came who was going to play where and hit where as a result of the sudden switches.
Adams came out to the field during batting practice to play some catch, but he was sent back into the clubhouse to seek treatment.
Matheny doubted that Adams would be used as a pinch hitter but he reserved the right to wait until Adams and trainers met.
He described the tightness as coming as he was taking soft toss in the batting cage as part of his early work.
Asked if he was good to go and why then he wasn't scheduled to take batting practice before the Adams' issue became public, Beltran held up his bat and grinned:
"That's why I got the bat."
Here is the new lineup that will face former Cardinals' top-notch prospect Dan Haren:
1. Matt Carpenter, 2B
2. Allen Craig, 1B
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Carlos Beltran, RF
5. Yadier Molina, C
6. David Freese, 3B
7. Jon Jay, CF
8. Pete Kozma, SS
9. Shelby Miller, P
Another start for Adams; Beltran sits
Two days into the new week, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has met his stated quota of weekly starts for Matt Adams.
The rookie first baseman will start for the second successive game when the Cardinals open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals at 6:05 tonight (FSM).
After Adams reached base three more times Sunday night, it was pretty much a no-brainer move for Matheny to start him again. Adams is batting .542 (13 for 24) with a 1.042 slugging percentage.
Left fielder Matt Holliday rested Sunday night so Adams could start, and right fielder Carlos Beltran will sit tonight. "Regular" first baseman Allen Craig played left field last night and will start in right tonight; he also moves up to No. 2 in the batting order and catcher Yadier Molina jumps to the cleanup spot.
1. Carpenter 2b
2. Craig rf
3. Holliday lf
4. Molina c
5. Adams 1b
6. Freese 3b
7. Jay cf
8. Kozma SS
9. Miller p
1. Span CF
2. Werth RF
3. Harper LF
4. LaRoche 1B
5. Desmond SS
6. Rendon 3B
7. Espinosa 2B
8. Suzuki C
9. Haren P
Check back here soon — Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold will have more news and notes after pre-game interviews with Matheny and players.