Wong does it all for Cards in win at Washington

Perhaps no player in the Cardinals’ lineup holds more potential than Kolten Wong.

The 24-year-old second baseman showed why that is when he contributed a little bit of everything to a 7-5 win at Washington on Wednesday night. Three big hits told only half the story for Wong, who kept the Nationals from taking the lead with some dazzling defensive plays before flashing his bat with a game-winning hit.

"Any time you can have positive in this game, it’s going to help (your) game tremendously," Wong told FOX Sports Midwest’s Jim Hayes during the Cardinals Live postgame show. "Definitely hitting helped with defense, and defense helped with hitting."

Wong began his one-man highlight show in the second inning, when he sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right field for a two-out, two-run home run off Doug Fister. A fourth-inning single would go unrewarded when catcher Wilson Ramos caught a fortunate bounce on a wild pitch and threw Wong out at third, but the young Hawaiian would get his revenge.

Ramos surely thought he had a single on a groundball just to the third-base side of second in the sixth, but Wong made a sensational play to field the ball and then somehow jumped and fired a strong throw to first for the out. It was nearly a mirror image of his play to end the fifth inning against Yunel Escobar, and Wong ranged to his left to field a groundball from Danny Espinosa for the second out of the sixth.

"In the field, just reckless abandon how he goes about it," manager Mike Matheny told reporters on FOX Sports Midwest. "There’s a couple plays that you don’t think he has any chance and he has incredible range but then puts a lot on that throw as well."

The defense proved valuable when Tyler Moore hit a two-out double in the sixth that could have easily scored the go-ahead run from first. Instead, the game remained tied until Wong went the opposite way for an RBI double in the eighth inning.

His sixth hit in the last two days left only one question: Is there anything he can’t do?

3 UP

• Carpenter stays hot. The Cardinals’ leadoff hitter got his team off on the right foot for the second time in three games.

His team-best third home run found the upper deck in right field to quickly put Fister behind 1-0. Carpenter later picked up his first two walks in the last eight games — one of which was intentional –€” as the Nationals wisely chose not to challenge St. Louis’ most dangerous bat.

• Shutdown bullpen. Three relievers combined to pitch 3 1/3 innings without giving up a hit to seal the win.

Kevin Siegrist worked out of trouble with a groundout to end the sixth and then retired three of four batters he faced in the seventh. Seth Maness took Jordan Walden’s typical spot to pitch a perfect eighth and Trevor Rosenthal struck out two batters for his fifth save of the season, lowering the bullpen’s ERA to 1.79 this year. 

• Big City blast. Matt Adams made Rafael Martin pay for leaving a slider up in the ninth inning. The first baseman hit a no-doubter for his second home run of the season, a nice complement to his RBI double in a two-run third inning.


• Lackadaisical Lackey. One crucial mistake cost John Lackey a lead and a chance at a quality start.

The right-hander failed to get off the mound quickly enough on a sharp groundball to get to first base before Ryan Zimmerman, a great hitter not known for being fleet of foot. That two-out single gave the Nationals their second run of the third inning, and the next batter, Escobar, lined a two-out, three-run double down the left-field line to tie the game at five.

"I definitely need to be there a little bit quicker, for sure," Lackey told reporters afterward.

• Holliday’s hit streak. Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday went 0 for 4, ending his MLB-best 12-game hit streak that began on Opening Night. But he still drew a team-leading ninth walk of the season in the seventh inning to keep his on-base percentage at a spectacular .491.

• Gonzales injury. Marco Gonzales went on the minor league disabled list with a shoulder injury he sustained while pitching for Triple A Memphis. The team assured reporters the move was purely precautionary. 

You can follow Luke Thompson on Twitter at @FS_LukeT or email him at lukegthompson87@gmail.com.