Cardinals 5, Nationals 3

So far, Lance Berkman has been a huge pickup for the St. Louis

Cardinals.

The new No. 5 hitter had three hits and two RBIs to build a

cushion for a bullpen that worked four innings of one-hit ball in a

5-3 victory over the Washington Nationals, giving the Cardinals a

doubleheader split on Wednesday night. The 35-year-old Berkman, on

a one-year free-agent deal after his worst season, is batting .339

with a team-leading 15 RBIs.

”It’s a good run for me personally and for the team. It seems

like every time I come up there’s somebody out there,” Berkman

said. ”I was hopeful something like this would happen, that I’d

get off to a good start and have something to build on.”

Laynce Nix homered and drove in two runs in Game 1 for the

Nationals, who chased Jake Westbrook with a six-run third inning in

an 8-6 victory.

Jaime Garcia (3-0) allowed one earned run in five-plus innings

and Colby Rasmus got his fourth RBI of the day as St. Louis snapped

Washington’s four-game winning streak in the nightcap. Reserve

third baseman Daniel Descalso had three nice defensive plays.

Jason Motte and rookie Eduardo Sanchez combined for nine

straight outs and stand-in closer Mitchell Boggs yielded a hit with

two outs in the ninth before getting Nix an on infield popup for

his first career save.

”We had a slugger at the plate with the tying run at the end of

the game,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. ”It just wasn’t

to be.”

Jordan Zimmermann (1-3) kept alive the Nationals starters’

streak of working at least five innings in every game, but gave up

five runs in six innings in the loss. Zimmermann allowed two earned

runs or less in each of his first three outings.

Berkman, the reigning NL player of the week, doubled in a run in

the fourth and delivered a run-scoring single for the go-ahead hit

in the fifth.

Descalso charged to throw out Jerry Hairston Jr. on a grounder

in the third and later in the inning snared Danny Espinosa’s

bouncer down the line and threw him out. He foiled another slow

roller on Jayson Werth’s run-scoring groundout in the fourth.

The second half of a day-night doubleheader drew a paid

attendance of 33,714 and a turnstile count of 28,536, a massive

improvement over the opener. A sparse crowd of 8,686 showed up for

Game 1 at general admission prices and a sit-anywhere policy to

watch the makeup game of a rainout Tuesday night, the franchise’s

worst crowd since Sept. 14, 1989, when only 1,519 watched a makeup

of a tie game called by rain against the Pirates.

Sloppy play by St. Louis helped the Nationals tie it in Game

2.

Left fielder Matt Holliday camped under and dropped Rick

Ankiel’s fly ball to the warning track for a three-base error in

the fourth, leading to an unearned run. Espinosa hit an RBI single

in the fifth, then went to third on Garcia’s wild pickoff throw

before scoring on Ankiel’s single.

The Cardinals regained the lead with a two-out rally in the

bottom of the fifth that began with Albert Pujols’ full-count walk

and was capped by run-scoring singles from Berkman and Yadier

Molina.

”I don’t want to give him a cookie 3-2,” Zimmermann said of

the Pujols at-bat. ”You try to be extra fine with the pitch and

not make a huge mistake.

”The other guys made some clutch hits, it was more the other

guys than him.”

Pujols hit his fifth homer and Colby Rasmus also went deep in

the opener. Rasmus had three RBIs, but also grounded into two of

the Cardinals’ four double plays. Demoted closer Ryan Franklin

retired four straight batters before Nix homered with one out in

the eighth on a pitch that caused Franklin to recoil in

disgust.

”They hit one ball hard and everything else I made pitches,”

Franklin said. ”You can’t keep being negative on yourself, you’ve

got to try to take something positive out of it.”

Drew Storen allowed a walk while getting the last four outs for

his second save in two chances. Espinosa had three hits, including

a pair of infield singles.

The Nationals did the little things like Ankiel going from first

to third – minus a shoe – and Ian Desmond swiping home on a double

steal. They scored the game’s first run after Werth’s aggressive

slide at second prevented a double play.

”We’ve got to do that. We’re not going to be a slugging team,”

Riggleman said. ”We had a little margin because of good

baserunning.”

Westbrook (1-2) has a 9.82 ERA after four starts, allowing 30

hits in only 18 1-3 innings, and is 7-18 for his career in the

first month. He gave up seven runs and seven hits in three innings,

his shortest outing since May 2, 2007, when he left a start with

Cleveland after 1 1-3 innings with an abdominal injury that landed

him on the 15-day disabled list.

”It just wasn’t a good day to get behind the hitters, or

anytime for that matter, but today was especially bad,” Westbrook

said. ”It just kind of snowballed in that one inning.”

John Lannan (2-1) was in and out of trouble in five innings,

inducing two double-play balls and holding the Cardinals hitless in

seven at-bats with men on base. The only damage came on homers by

Pujols and Rasmus.

”I just felt a little off,” Lannan said. ”Against this kind

of lineup, you’re kind of lucky going out there and getting through

five with the stuff that I had.”

Tyler Clippard got Pujols to fly out with two men on to end the

sixth, and struck out pinch-hitters Jon Jay and Descalso to end the

seventh with two on base.

Lannan started and ended the third with groundouts, but in

between seven straight batters reached, highlighted by Desmond’s

two-run single.

NOTES: Lannan is 5-0 in his last six road starts. … Franklin

has allowed four homers in 6 2-3 innings after giving up seven all

last year in 65 innings. … Ankiel made his first appearance in

St. Louis as an opposing player and got a nice ovation before his

first at-bat.