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Washington’s Anibal Sanchez held the Cardinals hitless for 7 2/3  innings, and the Nationals scored once in the second inning and once in the seventh to win 2-0 in the first game of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium.

Jose Martinez lined a single to center field with two outs in the eighth for the Cardinals' first hit, ending Sanchez’s night. The Cardinals had three other base runners against Sanchez on a walk and two hit batters.

"Ever since Anibal came back from being injured, he's been one of our most consistent, if not our most consistent, pitcher, which is hard to do with the other guys we have," Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "He doesn't get overlooked but it's such a different kind of pitching. But tonight was obviously vintage Anibal. I've seen him do that for almost 15 years but tonight was special."

The Nationals used two doubles in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead against Miles Mikolas, who lasted six innings. They took advantage of a triple by Adam Eaton in the seventh to score against the St. Louis bullpen.

Despite their hitting woes, the Cardinals were able to put a runner at third base in the fourth and sixth innings with two outs each time but were unable to get them home.

"We had a really good offensive club. Sanchez was really good tonight," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "We scored 13 in an elimination game and came right back and the guy threw a great game. But there's nothing but optimism about all our players and our offense for sure."

Sanchez had five strikeouts and didn’t allow anything close to a hit until Tommy Edman led off the eighth with a line drive that was snagged by a diving Ryan Zimmerman at first base. Martinez was pinch-hitting when he picked up the hit.

Howie Kendrick doubled to lead off the second inning for the Nationals. Mikolas retired the next two batters before Yan Gomes, who hit .223 during the regular season, lined a double into left center field to give Washington a 1-0 lead.

The Nationals loaded the bases in the fifth against Mikolas but he escaped without allowing a run by getting Juan Soto to ground out to second base.

Manager Mike Shildt went to the bullpen in the seventh, and Giovanny Gallegos allowed a one-out triple by Eaton and then intentionally walked Anthony Rendon.

Lefthander Andrew Miller entered to face Soto and struck him out. Shildt then opted to use John Brebbia, who allowed a run-scoring single by Kendrick. After Washington loaded the bases, Brebbia escaped with retiring Michael Taylor.

"We're both really good teams and both have really good pitching," Kendrick said. "To get Anibal to do what he did and have some of our other guys going -- it's going to be a fun series."

The Cards had chances without hits. Wong walked in the fourth, stole second base and went to third on a throwing error but was stranded. Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch in the sixth, stole second and went to third on a ground out but was also stranded.

The Nationals were without closer Daniel Hudson, who was on paternity leave. Washington manager Dave Martinez went to Sean Doolittle after Martinez’s hit in the eighth. He retired Dexter Fowler on a ground ball. He then retired the Cardinals in order in the ninth for the save.

Martinez ends no-hit bid

Pinch-hitter Jose Martinez lined a two-out single to center field in the eighth inning for the first Cardinals' hit of the night in the opening game of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium.

The hit marked the end of the night for Nationals starter Anibal Sanchez, who had allowed three previous base runners on a walk and two hit batters.

Lefthander Sean Doolittle, who is serving as the team's closer for the night, entered to face Dexter Fowler and got him to ground out to third base to end the inning and maintain Washington's 2-0 lead

Tommy Edman appeared to have the first hit for the Cardinals leading off the eighth, but Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman made a diving catch of his line drive. Paul DeJong then flew out to center field.

Hitless through seven

Washington's Anibal Sanchez will carry a no-hitter and 2-0 lead into the eighth inning after retiring the Cardinals in the seventh despite hitting Yadier Molina with a pitch with two outs.

Sanchez is up to 89 pitches but the Cardinals have nothing close to a hit. In the seventh, Paul Goldschmidt popped out to shortstop, Marcell Ozuna flew out to shallow right field and Matt Carpenter hit a weak ground ball to first base after Molina was hit with a 66 mph changeup.

The Cardinals' other two base runners came when Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning and Kolten Wong walked in the fourth.

The Cardinals will have Tommy Edman, Paul DeJong and the pitcher's spot up in the eighth.

Nats take 2-0 lead

John Brebbia entered the game to face Howie Kendrick in the seventh inning and promptly allowed a run-scoring single as Washington extended its lead against the hitless Cardinals to 2-0 at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals used three relief pitchers in the inning, and Giovanny Gallegos was credited with the run after he allowed a one-out triple by Adam Eaton. He then intentionally walked Anthony Rendon.

Left handed Andrew Miller entered the game to face Juan Soto and struck him out. Soto was the only batter Miller faced.

Brebbia entered and Kendrick lined a single to center field to score Eaton. Ryan Zimmerman was then walked to load the bases before Brebbia escaped by getting Michael Taylor to fly out to center field.

Cards hitless through six

The Cardinals' struggles against Anibal Sanchez have extended through six innings as they remain without a hit and trail Washington 1-0 at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals were able to put a runner at third base for the second time in the game in the sixth when pinch-hitter Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch, stole second and went to third on a ground out. But Kolten Wong's fly out to center field ended the threat.

Sanchez has thrown 75 pitches through six with 49 being strikes. He has pitched more than seven innings only once this season.

Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas saw his night end after six innings. He allowed one run on seven hits with seven strikeouts.

Cards hitless through six

Anibal Sanchez has held the Cardinals without a hit through four innings although they did finally get a base runner on a walk in the fourth inning.

Washington leads the first game of the National League Championship Series 1-0 at Busch Stadium.

The Nationals starter has thrown 45 pitches, with 29 being strikes, his only gaffe coming when he walked Kolten Wong with one out in the fourth inning. Wong ended up stealing second base and going to third on a throwing error but was stranded when Marcell Ozuna popped out to third base to end the inning.

Sanchez has three strikeouts and has gotten five Cardinals to fly out to center field, although none of those was remotely deep.

Nats jump on top 1-0

Yan Gomes, Washington's No. 8 hitter, drove in the first run of the National League Championship Series to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead over the Cardinals after two innings at Busch Stadium.

Gomes started after Kurt Suzuki was hit by a pitch in the hand and head in Game 5 of the division series and apparently wasn’t ready to go. He had been 0-for-12 in the playoffs this season.

Gomes had a double to left center field with two outs to drive in Howie Kendrick, who had doubled to open the inning against Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas. Gomes is now two for seven.

Mikolas had three strikeouts in the first inning and allowed a single by Anthony Rendon, who was stranded at first base.

Washington starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez retired the Cardinals in order in the first two innings.

Washington without closer

A Washington bullpen that ranks last in the National League in ERA will be without its closer for the first game of the National League Championship Series.

Daniel Hudson is on paternity leave with his wife, who gave birth Friday. He could return as soon as Saturday. Manager Dave Martinez said Sean Doolittle would be the closer, if needed.

"Apparently the baby didn't want to come out until later on this morning," manager Dave Martinez said. "So everything's fine. He had a little girl -- congratulate him and his wife. But we're going to miss him today. He's going to try to get back here possibly tomorrow."

Hudson has appeared in four postseason games — three against the Dodgers — recording two saves and a win. He has not allowed a run in 3 2/3 innings although he has surrendered four hits.

“We have enough weapons in that bullpen to hold off,” Martinez said. "It's one game. We'll figure it out. When the game starts we’ll see where we’re at and then go from there.”

Said Cardinals manager Mike Shildt: “Hopefully we wouldn’t be in position for him to pitch anyway. We like to keep the closer out of the game.”

Meanwhile, Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki is out of the lineup after being struck on the hand and head by a pitch thrown by the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler on Wednesday. The pitch knocked Suzuki to the ground, where he stayed for a couple of minutes. 

“He still has more tests to take,” Martinez said. “I’ll know more in the coming hours or something like that, but we need to be cautious. When it comes to a head injury, we’ve got to make sure that he’s good to go.”

Wainwright loves matchup

Adam Wainwright’s matchups with Max Scherzer were few and far between until the two battled in a game at Busch Stadium in September with the Cardinals winning 5-1. They will meet again Saturday afternoon, and Wainwright reiterated that it’s the type of matchup he craves.

“I like going into the game with some sort of preconceived idea that somebody’s betting against me or favoring the other side,” Wainwright said. “That pumps me up. I’ve always done that. I’ve always used that.”

Wainwright worked seven innings in that September game, allowing eight hits and one unearned run. After that game his ERA was at 3.83, the lowest mark since April.

Raves for Goldschmidt's defense

Shildt was asked about how much Paul Goldschmidt’s defense has impacted the Cardinals, and he gave a glowing review of the veteran’s work at first base.

Goldschmidt, who is a three-time gold glove winner, tied for the major league’s best fielding percentage at first base at .996 as he committed five errors in 1,372 chances. No first baseman had more chances.

“He settled down our defense, for sure,” Shildt said. “He’s got a really, really good sense of playing the position, situations. We go to the mound sometimes and make a pitching change, and a lot of times there’s people on base. He's aware of every part of what’s going to happen and what guys are going to do.

“So his positioning is outstanding. His situational awareness is really high. Then beyond that the residual benefit is … keeping guys aware. He’s got a really good understanding of the game. He makes plays in the dirt. He’s in good position with cutoffs and relays. He’s backing up the right way. He’s just a complete player.”

Shildt keeps same lineup

The lineup that produced 10 runs in the first inning at Atlanta on Wednesday will remain intact for the Cardinals as they open the National League Championship Series against Washington at Busch Stadium at 7:08 p.m.

Matt Carpenter will be at third base and bat sixth, Dexter Fowler is in center field and Paul DeJong remains in the No. 8 spot.

The Cardinals' starters have hit a combined .234 against Washington starter Anibal Sanchez for their careers. The player who has had the most success against him is reserve catcher Matt Wieters, who is 6-for-15 with two home runs against Sanchez.

Miles Mikolas is on the mound for the Cardinals in his second career playoff start after going five innings against Atlanta in the NLDS, allowing a run on three hits.

CARDINALS:

1. Dexter Fowler, CF

2. Kolten Wong, 2B

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B 

4. Marcell Ozuna, LF

5. Yadier Molina, C

6. Matt Carpenter, 3B

7. Tommy Edman, RF

8. Paul DeJong, SS

9. Miles Mikolas, P

NATIONALS:

1. Trea Turner, SS

2. Adam Eaton, RF

3. Anthony Rendon, 3B

4. Juan Soto, LF

5. Howie Kendrick, 2B

6. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B

7. Michael Taylor, CF

8. Yan Gomes, C

9. Anibal Sanchez, P


Cardinals' NLCS roster

Here is the Cardinals' 25-man roster for the National League Championship Series:

PITCHERS (12): John Brebbia, Genésis Cabrera, Jack Flaherty, Giovanny Gallegos, Dakota Hudson, Ryan Helsley, Carlos Martínez, Miles Mikolas, Andrew Miller, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Adam Wainwright, Tyler Webb.

CATCHERS (2): Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters.

INFIELDERS (6): Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong, Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Yairo Muñoz, Kolten Wong.

OUTFIELDERS (5): Randy Arozarena, Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, José Martínez, Marcell Ozuna.

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