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The Washington Nationals replaced regular first baseman Ryan Zimmerman with Howie Kendrick, their outstanding utility man Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. After all, Kendrick was six for eight in his career against Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas.

Make that eight for 11 now.

Kendrick tripled and scored in the second. He hit a solo homer, his 16th home run of the season, in the fourth. After Mikolas left, Kendrick singled off reliever John Gant to open a two-run eighth inning and the beleaguered Nationals bullpen was spotless as Washington beat the Cardinals 6-2, handing them their third loss in five games on their next-to-last-home stand of the season which ends Wednesday afternoon. 

Both Cardinals runs were unearned, the result of Washington errors. Mikolas fell to 9-14 as he allowed three runs in six innings, but the Cardinals’ bullpen tripped up for the second time in three days as Gant, Ryan Helsley and Genesis Cabrera each allowed a run over the final two innings, stretching out what was a 3-2 Washington lead.

The Milwaukee Brewers won to cut the Cardinals’ lead over them to two games in the National League Central Division race while the Chicago Cubs were losing to Cincinnati and remained two games behind. 

The Cardinals' magic number for eliminating both is 10.

GANT, HELSLEY STUMBLE AGAIN 

Cardinals relievers John Gant and Ryan Helsley, both of whom faltered Sunday when the Cardinals gave up a couple of leads to the Milwaukee Brewers, failed again Tuesday night.

Each allowed a run in the eighth inning as the Washington Nationals stretched their lead to 5-2.

Giovanny Gallegos was pulled with one out in the eighth after he had struck out three of the first four men to face him. But Gant, who walked three hitters in succession on Sunday, allowed Howie Kendrick’s third hit and walked Asdrubal Cabrera.

Rookie Henlsey entered and threw a pitch off the backstop but the ball rebounded to catcher Yadier Molina, who threw out Kendrick at third for the second out, with Cabrera advancing to second. But Victor Robles drove in his second run with a single and Yan Gomes added a run-scoring double. 

MISCUES KEEP CARDINALS ALIVE

While Howie Kendrick was powering the Washington Nationals with a triple and home run off Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas, the Nats’ defense was giving it right back.

After the Nationals had moved ahead of the Cardinals 3-1 in the top of the sixth inning Tuesday night at Busch Stadium, Washington handed the Cardinals a second unearned run in the home half. Catcher Yan Gomes, whose throwing has been off-line the entire series, gave up his fifth base in two nights as he fired the ball into center field, allowing Tommy Edman to score from third as Harrison Bader stole second to cut the lead to 3-2.

Edman walked with one out and sped to third on Bader’s single off Patrick Corbin, who registered his 11th strikeout on pinch hitter Jose Martinez before his catcher winged the ball into the outfield.

NATS' KENDRICK BUGS MIKOLAS AGAIN 

The Washington Nationals changed first basemen from Ryan Zimmerman to valuable utility man Howie Kendrick for game two of their series with the Cardinals Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. For good reason.

Kendrick, who had been six for eight in his career against Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas, tripled off the wrist of leaping center fielder Harrison Bader and scored the first Washington run in the second.

The next time up, after the Cardinals had tied the score, Kendrick hit it where Bader, leaping again, had no chance. The drive, off an 0-2 pitch, went into the center-field greenery for Kendrick's 16th homer and a 2-1 Nationals lead. Lefthander Patrick Corbin struck out two more in the Cardinals' fourth, giving him nine already for the night.

Washington had a chance to extend that lead in the fifth when Yan Gomes doubled to right and Corbin crossed up a Cardinals’ infield expecting a bunt by singling to left center. Gomes stopped at third _ and stayed there.

Trea Turner lined to jumping shortstop Paul DeJong. Adam Eaton flied to left, not deep enough to score catcher Gomes. And Anthony Rendon lined to deep right. It still was 2-1.

After two-out walks to Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna in the Cardinals’ fifth, DeJong grounded sharply to Washington shortstop Trea Turner.

NATIONALS GO UP 3-1

Mikolas was touched for another run in the sixth, opened by a double from Juan Soto, who, the Cardinals thought came off the bag on his head-first slide into second. They challenged. They lost. Kendrick finally was retired on a fly to right _ he is eight for 11 against Mikolas _ and Asdrubal Cabrera bounced to the mound. 

Mikolas took a look at second where Soto appeared to be trapped but took the safe out at first. Victor Robles then singled to score Soto and it was 3-1.

ERROR ALLOWS CARDS TO TIE SCORE 

The Washington Nationals took a 1-0 lead over the Cardinals in the second inning Tuesday night. Cardinals center fielder Harrison Bader, who has made many spectacular plays this year, couldn’t make a leaping catch of Howie Kendrick’s drive to deep center, with the ball clanking off Bader’s left wrist and Kendrick reaching third on a triple.

Asdrubal Carrerra’s sacrifice fly to deep left against Miles Mikolas easily scored Kendrick.

Mikolas escaped trouble in the third when he induced dangerous Anthony Rendon to ground into an inning-ending double play and then the Cardinals’ pitcher opened the Cardinals’ third with a single to left off lefthander Patrick Corbin.

Dexter Fowler followed with another single to left and Klten Wong sacrificed the runners to second and third. Paul Goldschmidt walked on a 3-2 pitch to fill the bases.

Marcell Ozuna struck out, bringing up Paul DeJong, a .207 hitter with men in scoring position. DeJong worked the count to 3-0 and swinging on the next offering, grounded to the left of shortstop Trea Turner, who bobbled the ball as he attempted to get a forceout and Mikolas scored the tying run.

Yadier Molna fanned on a slider for the third out.

SHILDT STANDS PAT WITH LINEUP 

Tying a season high achieved first in late April, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt is employing the same eight-man position player lineup for the fifth consecutive game Tuesday night against Washington at Busch Stadium.

That means no Matt Carpenter at third base and it means Tommy Edman will hit seventh, where he has been six for 14 with two homers in the first four games of the stretch.

Righthander Miles Mikolas, who is 8-3 in 13 career starts against National League Eastern Division opponents, will seek his 10th overall win this season against lefthander Patrick Corbin. The latter is holding lefthanded batters to a major-league low .260 slugging percentage.

The Cardinals (84-66) begin the night two games ahead of Chicago and three ahead of Milwaukee in the Central Division race. Washington holds a one-half game lead over Chicago and 1½ over Milwaukee in the wild-card derby, from which two teams will qualify. 

DEJONG LAGS IN RISP

The Cardinals are hitting a modest .256 with runners in scoring position, compared to Washington’s .281. But No. 5 hitter Paul DeJong of the Cardinals is only at .207 with just one of his 27 homers coming with a man in scoring position. Cleanup man Marcell Ozuna, for instance, has nine homers with a man in scoring position, including one in the first inning on Monday.

“Paulie’s gotten some big hits for us,” said Shildt. “He’ll work through it. He’s going to be a big-time run producer.”

Switch-hitting backup catcher Matt Wieters, who hasn’t played since Aug. 31 because of a left calf strain, has been cleared for full duty. That would include use as a lefthanded pinch-hitter, Shildt said.

CARDINALS’ LINEUP:

1. Dexter Fowler rf

2. Kolten Wong 2b

3. Paul Goldschmidt 1b

4. Marcell Ozuna lf

5. Paul DeJong ss

6. Yadier Molina c

7. Tommy Edman 3b

8. Harrison Bader cf

9. Miles Mikolas p

WASHINGTON LINEUP:

1. Trea Turner ss

2. Adam Eaton rf

3. Anthony Rendon 3b

4. Juan Soto lf

5. Howie Kendrick 1b

6. Asdrubal Carrera 2b

7. Victor Robles cf

8. Yan Gomes c

9. Patrick Corbin p

PLAYOFF TICKETS ON SALE THURSDAY

Tickets for a potential wild-card game at Busch Stadium on Oct. 1 and for up to three division series games (more likely two) will go on sale Thursday at noon.

They will be available at cardinals.com or by calling 314 345-9000. All individual tickets will be delivered digitally by the MLB Ballpark app.

In advance of the public sale, fans also can receive ticket access to postseason games this year by placing a deposit on 2020 season tickets.

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