Jack Flaherty won his fourth straight start for the first time in two years, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Washington 8-4 on Sunday to open the second half by winning two of three over the Nationals.
Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run and Nolan Gorman had three hits and two RBIs for St. Louis.
Flaherty (7-5) allowed three runs, three hits and three walks in six innings while striking out seven. He hadn’t won four straight starts since an 8-0 run from April 7 to May 19, 2021.
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«Good things happen when you get ahead,» Flaherty said. «A lot of the things that I’ve been trying to work on and improve on throughout the year, from getting ahead and controlling the straightaway, I did a better job today.»
His hot streak this year followed a slump in which he went 0-1 in five starts.
«Jack, he was on the attack from the first inning,» Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. «His material on him looked great. He handled the fastball extremely well, had a lot of swing and missed the curveball, missed the slider and changeup.»
Chris Stratton pitched a perfect seventh and Kyle Leahy relieved after a 38-minute rain delay. Leahy got one out and JoJo Romero the last five for the Cardinals, last in the NL Central at 40-53.
«We just have to play well every day and put together a lot of wins,» Goldschmidt said. «So if we do that, we have a chance.»
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Nationals All-Star Josiah Gray (6-8) allowed four runs and 10 hits in five innings.
«He had traffic from the first inning,» Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. «He couldn’t really establish his fastball today, he threw a lot more sliders, a lot more cutters. He got out of some jams and gave us everything he had over five innings. You know, I thought that was enough.» He had 95 pitches.»
Keibert Ruiz homered in the second, ending Flaherty’s streak of 13 2/3 scoreless innings.
Run-scoring singles by Andrew Knizner, Brendan Donovan and Lars Nootbaar in the fourth built a 3-1 lead for St. Louis, which had gone 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
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Gorman homered in the fifth.
«He’s taking much better at-bats,» Marmol said of Gorman. «Today was another good day for him. He stays on the ball well. Even on fly balls, you can tell he stays in the zone a lot better.»
Dominic Smith hit a two-run double to shallow center field in the sixth that barely eluded Nootbar’s attempt for a backhand catch, cutting the Nationals’ deficit to 4-3.
Goldschmidt hit a 443-foot drive up center in the sixth off Jordan Weems, Alec Burleson hit an RBI groundout and Gorman added a run-scoring single for an 8-3 lead.
Abrams doubled and scored on Ruiz’s groundout in the eighth.
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«We had a good series there,» Flaherty said. «We were a couple of pitches away from winning all three. We’ll take this one, build on it, and move on to the next one.»
St. Louis activated Knizner (right groin) from the 10-day disabled list, sent 1B Luken Baker to Memphis and returned RHP James Naile to the Triple-A farm team. Naile was the team’s 27th player in Saturday’s doubleheader.
Nationals: 3B Jeimer Candelario made a late scratch and missed his second straight game after hurting a bone in his right thumb on Friday night. … RHP Hunter Harvey was (right forearm pain) was sent back to DC for an MRI. He earned a save in the opener on Saturday.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (right shoulder strain) is expected to pitch a bullpen session Monday.
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Nationals: LHP MacKenzie Gore (4-7, 4.42 ERA) will start Monday’s opener of a three-game series at the Chicago Cubs, who counterattack with LHP Drew Smiley (7-6, 4.31 ERA). It will be Gore’s first start at Wrigley Field.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (5-5, 4.12) starts Monday’s opener of a three-game series against visiting Miami, sending LHP Jesus Luzardo (8-5, 3.29 ERA) to the mound.