Playoff baseball returns to D.C., as Nats and Cards play NLDS Game 3

Playoff baseball returns to the District of Columbia for the first time in 79 years, as the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals play Game 3 of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park.

Tuesday's contest will mark the first postseason contest in the nation's capital since the Washington Senators lost to the New York Giants at Griffith Stadium back on Oct. 7, 1933.

"I think we're excited not only for ourselves and all the hard work we've put in this year but to bring a playoff game to D.C.. It's something that's been a long time coming," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "They've been through a lot, a lot of tough years. I think it's an exciting time in the Beltway."

Getting the call for the Nationals in Game 3 will be righty Edwin Jackson, who won a World Series title with the Cardinals last season. Jackson, though, signed with Washington this past offseason and ended his first year in D.C., 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA.

"Jackson's a very experienced pitcher," Nats manager Davey Johnson said. "He's certainly up to it. But, you know, you have to pitch. You can't go out there and just throw against this ballclub. This is a good fastball-hitting club. You have to make some good pitches."

Jackson was roughed up badly the last time he faced his former team on Sept. 28 when the Cards rocked him for eight earned runs in only 1 1/3 innings. He is 1-3 in seven games (6 starts) against them with a 4.58 ERA.

St. Louis, meanwhile, will rely on a former NL Cy Young Award winner in Chris Carpenter, who missed most of the season following arm surgery. Carpenter only made three starts for the Cardinals this season and was 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA.

"Everybody knows that it wasn't supposed to happen," Carpenter said about him pitching at all this season. "I put a lot of work into it, to hopefully have this opportunity. I didn't know if I was going to have this opportunity or not - and fortunately, I do."

The 37-year-old righty, though, has been a playoff warrior for the Cardinals, going 9-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 postseason starts. During the Cardinals' run to a 11th World Series title a year ago Carpenter went 4-0.

That doesn't seem to faze the upstart Nats, though.

"Him winning the World Series last year or whenever isn't going to do anything for him tomorrow," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "He's a great pitcher, and nobody's taking anything away from him in that aspect, but tomorrow we're going to go out there with our plan and try and do what we've done all year."

After losing Game 1 of this series, St. Louis evened the best-of-five set on Tuesday, as Carlos Beltran belted two of four home runs for the Cardinals in a 12-4 rout at Busch Stadium.

Beltran and Jon Jay each knocked in three runs on two hits in the win, with Allen Craig finishing 3-for-5 with two runs scored and Daniel Descalso contributing a pair of RBI as part of a 2-for-4 performance.

The Cardinals banged out 13 hits for the game, eight of which went for extra bases.

"We know this offense has the potential to do this," said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny. "It was nice to see this, and hopefully it becomes contagious and the guys just keep going."

Lance Lynn (1-0) was credited with the victory after striking out five in three innings in relief of an ailing Jaime Garcia, despite surrendering back- to-back solo homers to Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche in the fifth.

Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with two RBI and Mike Morse also collected two hits for the NL East-winning Nationals, with starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann coming through with an RBI single in a losing cause.

Zimmermann (1-1) wasn't as effective on the mound, lasting just three innings while being tagged for five runs on seven hits.

"He didn't really make a lot of adjustments out there," Johnson remarked. "He kind of stayed one way, hard-away. A good fastball-hitting club, you have to use both sides of the plate, and he didn't really use his slider much early on. That's just a little inexperience."

St. Louis took two of three from the Nationals over the final weekend of the regular season, but Washington won the season series, 4-3. Three of Washington's wins, though, were at home.