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Span's sacrifice fly lifts Nationals over Cards

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Washington center fielder Denard Span came off the seven-day concussion disabled list Saturday.

A day later, Span drove in the winning run in the last of the ninth with a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and one out off of reliever Seth Maness to break a 2-2 tie and the Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 on Sunday in the series finale.

Second baseman Danny Espinosa singled with one out in the ninth and catcher Jose Lobaton followed with a single to right, as Espinosa took third. It was the third hit of the game for both players.

Pinch-hitter Nate McLouth walked to load the bases and Span followed with his game-winner with just two St. Louis outfielders in the defensive alignment. The throw to home by center fielder John Jay -- who was stationed in left-center -- was too late to catch Espinosa.

"The games against the Cardinals are always a grind," said Span, whose team had lost two of the first three in the series. "We needed to even the series."

The Nationals trailed 2-0 before scoring two in the seventh and the game-winner in the ninth. The Cardinals had won eight of the previous nine games against Washington.

"When they get the lead they are tough to come back on," McLouth said of the Cardinals. Maness "has a really good sinker, actually. It worked out."

The Nationals had to take it easy on Span, due to the recent concussion, in the post-game celebration on the field.

"That's a good point. Don't hit Span on the head," McLouth said.

The Nationals left 17 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the third and sixth. Washington scored two runs in the seventh as shortstop Ian Desmond and Espinosa had RBI singles against St. Louis reliever Carlos Martinez to tie the game at 2.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said the location of Martinez's pitches was "more the middle of the plate. He has been down and he has been on the sides of the plate (in the past). Today was one of those days he found the middle of the plate." Martinez gave up four hits and two runs.

St. Louis starter Shelby Miller (no runs, five walks, 99 pitches in 5 1/3 innings) helped himself at the plate in the bottom of the fifth as he lined a double over the head of left fielder Bryce Harper to score Peter Bourjos, the St. Louis center fielder, and give the Cardinals a 2-0 advantage.

"He looked good at times," Matheny said of Miller. "Those walks, they hurt. Something there is triggering him to fall off to the side too much. Sometimes it is a tough adjustment to make mid-game."

The Cardinals had taken a 1-0 lead in the second as first baseman Matt Adams, who led off with a double, scored on a double play groundout by second baseman Mark Ellis against Washington starter Stephen Strasburg, who gave up two runs in six innings.

Miller loaded the bases on walks in the third to Strasburg, Harper and right fielder Jayson Werth. The last two walks came with two outs and then Miller fanned first baseman Adam LaRoche to end the threat.

The winning pitcher was Rafael Soriano (1-0), who pitched a scoreless top of the ninth for Washington, while Maness (0-1, 7.11 ERA) was tagged with the loss.

"He has thrown better than what his ERA is," Matheny said.

NOTES: Washington LF Bryce Harper was back in the starting lineup and batting second a day after he was benched for not running to first on a grounder back to the mound in the sixth inning against the Cardinals on Saturday. "Bryce understands he is our catalyst," manager Matt Williams said on the Nationals radio network before Sunday's game. "It was a decision I made. I spoke to Bryce after the game. Yesterday was an example of Bryce being outside of himself. We hope it doesn't happen again." ... LHP Tyler Lyons will be called up from Triple-A Memphis to start for the Cardinals on Monday against Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia (2-0, 2.81) in New York. Lyons is 2-0, 3.32 at Memphis and was 2-4, 4.75 in 12 games, with eight starts, for St. Louis last year. ... The Nationals begin a series at home Monday with the Angels and RHP Tanner Roark (1-1, 5.29) will face RHP Garrett Richards (2-0, 2.84). ... St. Louis C Yadier Molina has now hit safely in 11 straight games after he singled in the second inning Sunday.
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