Before Werth's walkoff, a rousing speech for Nats
Werth’s shot provided a sudden end to a classic postseason contest filled with tremendous pitching. Each team managed only three hits. No Washington batter ever came to the plate with a runner in scoring position. Both of the host’s runs came on solo shots, including Adam LaRoche’s in the second off Kyle Lohse.
Lynn, usually a starter for St. Louis but a reliever in these playoffs, was making his third appearance of this series.
‘‘Heater. He beat me,’’ Lynn said. ‘‘I've had success this series with him, and, you know, everyone in the stadium knew what I was throwing there.’’
‘‘It was just a matter of time,’’ Lynn added. ‘‘I was challenging him, and he was up for it.’’
The righty was the Cardinals’ third pitcher — facing only one batter — and manager Mike Matheny was asked afterward why he didn’t use closer Jason Motte.
‘‘If we were at home, it would have been a very easy decision to bring in Motte,’’ Matheny said, explaining that if he used up his closer and St. Louis went ahead later in the game, a reliever not used to getting a save would have needed to try.
‘‘Had a lot of confidence in Lance. He came in throwing the ball well,’’ Matheny added. ‘‘Werth just put together a very good at-bat.’’
Cardinals batters decidedly did not down the stretch. Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann — the Game 2 starter making his first relief appearance in the majors — Tyler Clippard and Storen combined for eight Ks in three innings. Storen pitched the top of the ninth and got the win.
‘‘All of them were throwing harder than I've seen them throw,’’ Johnson said.
Storen walked No. 8 hitter Pete Kozma with two outs, before getting pinch hitter Matt Carpenter on a twisting, stumbling overhead catch by shortstop Ian Desmond, who wound up sliding face-down along the grass in short left field. When Desmond rose, he chucked the ball high into the stands and yelled.
Moments later, Werth had all the towel-twirling spectators yelling, too, thanks to the way he turned on a 96 mph fastball. For much of the game, the hometown fans were rather quiet, perhaps dreading a sooner-than-expected end to their team’s better-than-expected year.
While nearly to a man — except, naturally, for Werth — the young Nationals are new to this sort of thing, the Cardinals have quite the postseason pedigree: Over the past two years, St. Louis is 5-0 in games where it faces elimination, including must-have victories in Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers.
‘‘We've got a lot of veterans in this clubhouse that have been in big spots before and have lost games and know how to bounce back,’’ second baseman Daniel Descalso said. ‘‘We've done a good job of that lately, and we’re going to try to do it again.’’
Gonzalez, who led the majors with 21 wins, will oppose Wainwright, a 14-game winner who was a spectator during last year’s title run while recovering from reconstructive surgery on his pitching elbow.
‘‘Of course I wish we would have won tonight, but you know what? This is every pitcher’s dream, I would say,’’ Wainwright said. ‘‘Every competitor’s dream is to go in huge moments like that, so I look forward to the challenge.’’
NOTES: Nationals rookie Bryce Harper is 1 for 18 in the series. ... The Cardinals’ only run in Game 3 was unearned. It came in the third, when Ross Detwiler — probably in the postseason rotation only because Stephen Strasburg was shut down — walked Kozma, who took second on a sacrifice bunt, reached third on Desmond’s fielding error and scored on Carlos Beltran’s sac fly.
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