ST. LOUIS -- The Washington Nationals were so impressed with outfielder Tyler Moore as an amateur that they drafted him three times before he finally signed. On Sunday, that persistence paid off in the opening game of the NL Division Series.
Moore, a rookie who played only 75 games for the Nationals this season, came off the bench and delivered a two-run single in the eighth inning to lift the Nationals to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Nationals trailed 2-1 when Michael Morse reached base to open the eighth inning, with St. Louis rookie shortstop Pete Kozma kicking his ground ball for an error. Ian Desmond's third single of the day, followed by a sacrifice bunt, put runners on second and third with one out.
After reliever Mitchell Boggs struck out Kurt Suzuki, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny pulled Boggs to bring in left-hander Marc Rzepczynski. Washington manager Davey Johnson countered the move by pulling back Chad Tracy and sending up Moore, who was 6-for-29, a .207 average, as a pinch hitter in the regular season.
Moore worked the count to 2-2 before delivering a single to right that drove in the tying and go-ahead runs and put the Nationals in position to win their first postseason game since the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington in 2005.
"I know he's got a good sinker, and I just wanted to stay on the ball as much as possible," Moore said. "I wanted to make sure I had a ball in my zone. I was able to flare it out to right."
Moore signed with the Nationals after being selected in the 2008 draft out of Mississippi State. He had earlier been selected by the Nationals out of a Mississippi high school and a junior college, but didn't sign then.
"I'm just glad to have the opportunity because they didn't want to face Chad Tracy, who is our best pinch hitter," Moore said.
Johnson said he had no hesitation about using either Tracy or Moore for that key at-bat, depending on which pitcher the Cardinals put on the mound.
"He usually leaves in Boggs, so I thought that he would probably leave Boggs in there," Johnson said. "I told Tracy if he makes a change, I was going to Moore. I was not really concerned. I thought I had the upper hand because I was going to control the matchup."
Matheny said he anticipated the Nationals would pull back Tracy.
"Either you leave Boggs in the game, which normally we would do," Matheny said. "If we make a double switch, we can bring in (closer Jason) Motte, but we didn't have that move, so that left us with Zep against one of their young right-handers. (Moore) went up there and put together a good at-bat and made it happen. That was the game."
The winning rally came a half-inning after the Cardinals had failed to score and expand their 2-1 lead despite having the bases loaded with no outs. Reliever Ryan Mattheus got out of the jam on two pitches, getting Allen Craig to ground into a forceout at the plate and Yadier Molina to ground into a double play.
"They made a couple of nice plays," Matheny said. "We needed a couple of runs, but they pitched their way out of it."
The Cardinals had taken advantage of Washington starter Gio Gonzalez's inability to throw strikes by bunching four walks, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly to score both of their runs in the second inning, a lead they held until the eighth.
The Nationals jumped in front 1-0 in the top of the second when Adam LaRoche drew a leadoff walk and later scored on a two-out single by Suzuki.
That was all the offense Washington could generate against St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, who became the first Cardinals pitcher to record 10 or more strikeouts in a postseason game since Bob Gibson fanned 10 in Game 4 of the 1968 World Series. Wainwright allowed six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
NOTES: The age difference between managers Davey Johnson (69) and Mike Matheny (42) is the largest in playoff history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Johnson is the oldest current manager in the majors, and Matheny is the youngest ... Johnson has now managed four different teams in the playoffs, making his first appearance since he managed Baltimore in 1997 ... The game was the first in the postseason by a Washington team since Oct. 5, 1933, when the Senators lost Game 5 of the World Series to the New York Giants ... The only previous trip to the postseason for the current Washington franchise came in 1981, when the Montreal Expos reached the NL Championship Series ... Only four players on the Nationals roster have previous playoff experience -- Jayson Werth, LaRoche, Edwin Jackson and Michael Gonzalez ... The Game 2 starters will be Jordan Zimmermann for Washington and Jaime Garcia for St. Louis. One of the reasons Garcia is starting ahead of Chris Carpenter is his success at Busch Stadium. This year, Garcia is 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA in nine home starts, 3-5 with a 5.02 ERA in 11 road starts. In his career, Garcia is 20-11 with a 2.48 ERA at home and 14-12 with a 4.47 ERA on the road.