Reporting Byron Kerr
Danny Espinosa slammed a three-run, walk-off homer in the 10th inning, lifting the Washington Nationals to a dramatic 7-4 series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals before 19,662 at Nationals Park.
The Nationals extended their season-high win streak to six games as they got within three games of the .500 mark (33-36). With the Marlins loss to the Phillies, the Nationals moved up to sole possession of fourth place in the N.L. East.
It was the first time the Nationals had swept the Cardinals since 2007. Washington has won six of their last seven meetings against St. Louis in D.C.
Espinosa’s heroic round tripper was his first career walk-off winner and his first home run in extra innings. Espinosa’s 12th homer doubles his overall total (6) from last season.
The game began and ended with Washington hitting home runs.
Jayson Werth and Roger Bernadina greeted Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse with back-to-back home runs to give the Nationals an early 2-0 advantage. It was the first time since 2002 that the franchise had started a game with home runs from the first two hitters.
On June 16, 2002, Expos’ Brad Wilkerson and Jose Vidro went back-to-back to open the game against the Toronto Bluejays.
Even in a no decision, Lannan was close to masterful again, twirling seven innings, allowing six hits, two runs, two walks and two strikeouts with one home run. He threw just 86 pitches, 56 for strikes. Lannan has allowed just four runs in his last five outings.
The Nationals added an RBI single by Danny Espinosa and a solo shot from Laynce Nix. The Cardinals enjoyed a solo shot from newly activated veteran Matt Holliday and an RBI grounder from Yadier Molina.
The Cardinals out up a big threat in the eighth inning. With Tyler Clippard in and two fly outs recorded with relative ease, Albert Pujols crushed a 1-1 pitch into the left field bullpen to make it 4-3, Nationals.
Following a walk to Holliday, Clippard fired 94 mile per hour fastballs to strikeout Lance Berkman swinging and end the threat.
Then in the ninth against closer Drew Storen, Yadier Molina connected on his fourth homer of the year to tie the game, 4-4.
Sean Burnett got the win (2-3), regaining confidence following a rough stretch. Burnett pitched a scoreless tenth frame, highlighted by a fly out by Albert Pujols and a called third strike to Lance Berkman.