Brian Schneider homered and the Nationals got big defensive plays from right fielder Austin Kearns and second baseman Felipe Lopez in a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night. The last-place team in the NL East has won four in a row, matching their longest streak of the season.
“It’s been so long since I’ve had one,” Bowie said. “I think the big thing is the way this team has been playing. Guys have been going hard and it’s been paying off.”
Schneider’s second-inning homer was his third of the year and second in three games for the Nationals, who ended the Cardinals’ three-game winning streak.
The left-handed Bowie (1-2) made his second start in place of the injured Jerome Williams and gave up two runs and four hits in five innings. He’s 3-6 with a 6.27 ERA in 13 career starts, and his last victory came Sept. 23, 1999, against the Pirates while with the Cubs.
“You can’t complain about Micah,” Schneider said. “We needed him to give us a chance to win, and he did.”
Right fielder Austin Kearns made a spectacular diving catch at the warning track that transformed what might have been a two-run double by Jim Edmonds into an inning-ending double play in the sixth, preserving the Nationals’ 5-2 lead.
“That totally saved the game,” manager Manny Acta said. “Kearns made a great play.”
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had no argument.
“That was a great play, a game-changing play,” La Russa said. “He ran a long way for it.”
Albert Pujols and Edmonds homered for St. Louis in the fourth inning.
Yadier Molina was 0-for-4 to end a 15-game hitting streak for St. Louis, which had won five in a row at home. Molina bounced into a double play against Jesus Colome with runners on first and second to end the eighth.
Manager Tony La Russa was unhappy that Juan Encarnacion stopped at second on Scott Rolen’s RBI single that cut the gap to a run, making it easy for third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to step on the base and throw to first on Molina’s grounder.
“Juan has got to be on third base,” La Russa said. “That changed that whole inning around. That’s not Cardinal baseball and that was a costly base not to get.”
Chad Cordero got the last three outs for his seventh save in 11 chances.
Anthony Reyes (0-8) has lost 10 straight regular-season decisions, last winning Sept. 3, 2006 against the Pirates. He has a 6.08 ERA after allowing five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. He was 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA as a rookie last year, but made a name for himself with eight dominating innings in the World Series opener against the Tigers.
He’s the first Cardinals pitcher to lose 10 straight decisions since closer Dennis Eckersley lost 10 in a row from April 4, 1996 to Aug. 26, 1997. Team records going back to 1957 show no starters with losing streaks of that length, and Reyes’ slump is one loss longer than Danny Jackson’s nine-gamer in 1995.
“I don’t think about wins and losses,” Reyes said. “If I did it would probably get to me, but I go out there and try to throw strikes and keep the team in the game.”
Dmitri Young walked with one out in the second before the homer by Schneider.
Pujols’ eighth homer, his first since April 28, led off the fourth. Edmonds, who hit only three of his 19 homers off lefties last year, connected on a 3-2 pitch for his third of the season with two outs.
The Nationals opened the sixth with three straight singles to load the bases. After a home-to-first double play started by Pujols, Nook Logan doubled to right-center for two runs and a 5-2 lead.
The Nationals have won 11 of their last 15 overall. … Pujols also singled twice and is 16-for-37 (.432) during a nine-game hitting streak. … Young had two hits and is 15-for-26 (.578) in his last nine games. … Molina’s hitting streak was the longest by a St. Louis catcher since Erik Pappas hit in 16 in a row in 1993. … It was the first time all season Nationals’ starters won three games in a row. … Colome hasn’t allowed a run in 10 2-3 innings over nine appearances.