St. Louis, MO – The first postseason game in 79 years for a team based in the city of Washington turned out to be well worth the wait.
Pinch-hitter Tyler Moore delivered a two-out, two-run single in the top of the eighth inning as the Washington Nationals opened up their National League Division Series against the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals with a 3-2 come-from-behind win Sunday at Busch Stadium.
Moore's clutch hit came after Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus (1-0) worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the seventh.
Tyler Clipboard and Drew Storen set St. Louis down the rest of the way to nail down the first playoff contest involving a Washington team since the Senators participated in the 1933 World Series, as well as the Nationals' postseason debut since moving from Montreal following the 2004 season.
The Expos participated in only one playoff series in their 36-year residence in Montreal, losing in five games to the Dodgers in the 1981 NLCS.
"You know, I think there's going to be some new history in Washington from here on out," said Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.
Adam Wainwright struck out 10 batters over 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball for St. Louis, but was let down by his team's bats as well as its defense.
Mitchell Boggs (0-1) was charged with the two eighth-inning runs, both of which were unearned due to a fielding error by rookie shortstop Pete Kozma. The Cardinals also went hitless in eight at-bats with men in scoring position and stranded a total of 10 runners for the game.
"We had opportunities to win this and put more than the couple runs that we had up there," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "And we have been very good lately in situations, getting situational hitting done, and today it just didn't work."
Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez surrendered just one hit and struck out five over five innings, but walked seven batters and was reached for two runs.
Washington also committed two errors on the day, but neither proved as costly as Kozma's mishandling of a Michael Morse grounder that opened the eighth with the Nats trailing 2-1.
Desmond followed with his third hit of the game, a single to right that advanced Morse to third, and a sacrifice bunt by Danny Espinosa placed two men in scoring position.
Boggs settled down to strike out Kurt Suzuki, but was then removed in favor of southpaw Marc Rzepczynski after the lefty-swinging Chad Tracy was announced as a pinch-hitter.
Washington manager Davey Johnson instead changed course and inserted the rookie Moore, who served an outside pitch in front of Cards right fielder Carlos Beltran to bring home both runners.
"I actually did not think that Mike [Matheny] was going to get Boggs," Johnson explained. "But I told Tracy when he went up there, if he takes him out and brings in Rzepczynski or whatever his name is, I'm hitting Moore. I'd rather have the veteran player in that situation than a rookie. But rookies have been having success [for us] all year. They have been doing a heck of a job, and Moore has got some big hits for us, as he did tonight."
St. Louis would get the potential tying run to second with one out in the eighth, but Clippard got Kozma to harmlessly pop out before striking out pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter looking to kill what would be the Cardinals' last real threat.
The Cardinals had a big one in the seventh, however, yet couldn't cash in on an opportunity to pad their 2-1 edge -- a failure that would prove costly later on.
St. Louis filled the sacks with none out on an error by Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche, a Beltran single and a hit batsman, prompting Johnson to summon Mattheus to replace Craig Stammen. The right-hander immediately induced a grounder from Allen Craig that forced Jon Jay out at home, then got Yadier Molina to bounce into a 5-4-3 double-play that kept the Nationals' deficit at one.
Both teams put up runs in the second inning, taking advantage of each starter's early struggles with his command.
LaRoche led off Washington's half of the frame with a walk and Desmond singled two batters later to put runners at the corners with one out. Wainwright then managed to catch Espinosa looking at a called third strike, but allowed a single to Suzuki that plated LaRoche for a 1-0 Nationals' advantage.
Gonzalez would give the lead right back up, however, by walking the bases loaded with one out and then uncorking a wild pitch that enabled Molina to cross the plate. Following another free pass, this one to Wainwright, Jay lifted a fly ball to left that brought home Daniel Descalso and put the Cardinals ahead.
The score would remain that way until the eighth, with Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth keeping the game a one-run affair by making a leaping catch of a long drive by Descalso in the sixth that would have gone for a two-run homer.
Washington also left 10 men on base, but finished 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position ... Wainwright became the first Cardinals hurler to record 10 strikeouts in a postseason game since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson did so against Detroit in Game 4 of the 1968 World Series ... Since 1987, the winner of Game 1 in a postseason set involving the Cardinals has gone on to take the series on 17 of 21 occasions ... The Nationals had lost in 12 of their last 14 visits to Busch Stadium coming in.