October 15, 2019 / 3:33 AM / a month ago

Strasburg, Nats crush Cards, close in on NLCS sweep

EditorsNote: update 2: adds Strasburg quotes as last graf

Oct 14, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; View of fans entering the venue for game three of the 2019 NLCS playoff baseball series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Howie Kendrick drove in three runs, and Stephen Strasburg gave the Washington Nationals yet another strong pitching performance Monday in an 8-1 National League Championship Series victory over the visiting St. Louis Cardinals that moved the franchise one victory away from its first World Series appearance.

In the first home NLCS game in Nationals history, Strasburg (1-0) struck out 12 while giving up an unearned run over seven innings of Game 3. He now has a 1.10 ERA over seven career playoff appearances, four of which have come in this postseason.

Nationals starters Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Strasburg have not given up an earned run in 21 2/3 innings of the NLCS while pitching Washington to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven set.

The Cardinals have scored just two runs in the series, which would end Tuesday if Washington can win at home again.

“We have to play with the lead,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We have to get the lead at some point in this series. In order to win a game, you have to get a lead, so we have to figure out a way to create some offense early in the game and hold it there.”

Kendrick, whose grand slam was the deciding blow in the decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, tied a league championship series record with three doubles Monday. He drove in two runs on a double during a four-run third inning and brought home another run on a double in Washington’s two-run fifth.

“I think we put together some good at-bats, got some guys on and guys put some good swings on the ball,” Kendrick said.

Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman and Victor Robles each had two hits for the Nationals, who have won five consecutive postseason games since losing Game 3 of the NLDS.

Robles, who added a sixth-inning home run, had been out the previous nine days with a mild hamstring strain. His homer was the only Washington run that did not come with two outs.

Kendrick said, “Sometimes you (thrive with two outs), sometimes you don’t, but right now is a good time to be able to drive in some runs, and I was happy I was able to come through for my team.”

Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty (0-1) gave up four runs on five hits over four innings with two walks and six strikeouts. No. 3 hitter Paul Goldschmidt struck out four times as St. Louis batters fanned 16 times.

Washington’s four-run third inning was the first time Flaherty gave up more than two runs in an inning since June 25 against the Oakland Athletics. He did not allow more than three runs over his final 16 regular-season starts and his first two postseason starts.

The Nationals will send left-hander Patrick Corbin to the mound in Game 4 on Tuesday as they look for the NLCS sweep. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Dakota Hudson. There was just one NLCS sweep over the previous 11 seasons: the New York Mets over the Chicago Cubs in 2015.

With Washington on the brink of a World Series berth, Strasburg said, “I think it’s been just such an amazing year, and I think it’s really been great just because of where we’ve had to come from. We’ve got such a great group of guys, and it’s fun. It’s fun being around the guys and going out there and competing together. I think (if) you ask anybody in there, we just want to stay together and keep playing.”

—Field Level Media

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