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Rosenthal opens door for Nats, then closes

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal made the wrong decision on a ball hit back at him in the ninth inning Saturday.

However, Rosenthal collected himself and two batters later struck out Jayson Werth for the final out as the Cardinals held on to beat the Washington Nationals, 4-3.

Washington center fielder Denard Span hit a ball up the middle and Rosenthal tried to get a force play at second on Zach Walters, but he was late with the throw.

"I thought I had a chance at second," Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal then committed a balk to put runners on second and third with one out, and a run-scoring groundout by left fielder Kevin Frandsen cut the lead to 4-3.

But Rosenthal struck out Werth to end the game with the tying run on third.

"Just get the job done," Rosenthal said of his mindset against Werth. "I have felt good all year."

Washington manager Matt Williams said after the game he pulled left fielder Bryce Harper for a failure to hustle when he grounded out back to the pitcher in the sixth.

"I respect what he did," Harper said after the game.

Harper was in the starting lineup as the No. 2 hitter and his spot was taken in the order by Frandsen.

"It is tough to watch," Harper said of his missed chance to bat in a key spot in the ninth.

What did Washington starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann think of Harper being taken out?

"That is up to Matt," said Zimmerman, who fell to 1-1. "I try to stay out of that. Hopefully (Harper) learns, I guess."

The victory went to St. Louis starter Lance Lynn (4-0), who pitched into the sixth inning and also drove in a run. His catcher, Tony Cruz, hit a two-run single as the Cardinals scored three unearned runs in the second.

"It was a hanging slider to Cruz," Zimmermann said.

Lynn (4-0) entered the game with a career ERA of 9.82 against the Nationals in three games, with one start, in 2012. He went 5 2/3 innings and allowed five hits and one run after having not faced Washington in 2013.

"He probably didn't have the same stuff as last time," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Lynn, who pitched seven shutout innings Monday against Milwaukee. "He still pitched a real nice game."

Cruz did a good job back of the plate and with the bat, said Matheny.

"He did a great job; it is amazing to watch, knowing how hard the job is," Matheny said of being a backup catcher.

Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon made a bad throw to second base on a possible double play on a ball hit by Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong with one out in the second inning. Washington has 20 errors in its first 18 games.

"I have to buckle down (after the error); I have to get those guys," Zimmermann said.

Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa, who batted .189 last season, hit his first home run of the year to right-center to cut the lead to 3-1 in the fifth.

The Cardinals added an insurance run in the seventh to make it 4-1 on a RBI single by Matt Holliday.

The Nationals trimmed the lead to 4-2 on an RBI double in the eighth by Rendon.

Lynn got a big lift from reliever Kevin Siegrist, who entered the game with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth, and retired Espinosa on a routine fly to center to end the threat.

Frandsen entered the game in left field in the top of the seventh for Washington, replacing Harper, who was 0-for-3.

The Nationals are 2-7 this season against the Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, two playoff teams from last season.

NOTES: Washington CF Denard Span (concussion) came off the seven-day disabled list and started in center field as the leadoff hitter. The Nationals sent OF Steven Souza, Jr. to Triple-A Syracuse after he went 1-for-4 with a walk in his first big league stint. ... The scheduled starters for the series finale Sunday are Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 6.00 ERA) and St. Louis RHP Shelby Miller (1-2, 4.67). ... Cardinals' C Yadier Molina entered Saturday with a 10-game hitting streak but he was not in the starting lineup. ... St. Louis RHP Lance Lynn and Washington RHP Drew Storen, a reliever, were high school teammates in Indiana.
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