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Cardinals 4, Nationals 2

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WASHINGTON -- Jaime Garcia combined with three relievers to outduel Stephen Strasburg and the St. Louis Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Nationals with a 4-2 victory Wednesday.

Garcia (2-1) was on cruise control for much of the contest against a struggling Washington offense, allowing a bunt single in the second inning and a double in the fourth before running out of gas in the sixth.

He allowed an RBI groundout by Bryce Harper in his 5 2/3 innings of work, giving up four hits while striking out three. Joe Kelly got the final out of the sixth and worked the seventh before Trevor Rosenthal pitched the eighth, allowing a solo home run to Jayson Werth.

Edward Mujica closed out the win for his fourth save of the year.

Strasburg (1-4) got off to a slow start, allowing three first-inning runs, before settling down to retire 17 of the last 19 batters he would face. But with the Nationals scoring just four runs in their last 36 innings, a three-run deficit was too big of a hill to climb.

Yadier Molina had two RBIs as St. Louis completed its three-city, nine-game roadtrip 6-3, lifting the Cardinals into first place in the National League Central.

Washington, meanwhile, has lost six straight home games and is 1-8 against teams with winning records.

The crowd was still filing into the stadium when Strasburg ran into trouble in the first inning, although the Cardinals didn't exactly rough up the Washington ace.

Matt Carpenter led off the game with a flare to left that just dropped in fair territory. Carpenter pushed for the extra base, and while Bryce Harper's throw got to second in time, the ball squirted out of Danny Espinosa's glove for a double. Matt Holliday then singled and Carlos Beltran walked to load the bases.

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina lofted a single just inside the right-field line to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. Strasburg appeared to induce a double play ground ball from David Descalso, but third baseman Anthony Rendon's throw pulled Espinosa off the bag, allowing Beltran to score and make it 3-0.

That was plenty of offense for St. Louis as the Nationals' woes continued at the plate. Washington mustered just two hits off Garcia through the first five innings.

NOTES: Nationals manager Davey Johnson promised lineup changes before Wednesday's game, but they were relatively minor, with Tyler Moore replacing slumping Adam LaRoche at first base and catcher Jhonatan Solano starting in place of Kurt Suzuki. ... St. Louis swept a three-game road series from the the Nationals' franchise for the first time since beating the Expos on Sept. 26-28, 1969, in Montreal. ... Rendon's error was the Nationals' MLB-leading 19th miscue. ... The Cardinals lead baseball with a .352 average with runners in scoring position and in hitting with runners in scoring position and two outs at .380.
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