Game Report: Cardinals 2, Nationals 0

By Rob Rains

Michael Wacha came within one out of pitching a no-hitter for the Cardinals Tuesday night in their win over the Nationals at Busch Stadium. The win reduced their magic number for clinching the NL Central to three over the Pirates with four games to play.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals gave Wacha the only run he would need in the third when Matt Carpenter doubled with two outs, his 55th of the season, and scored on a single by Shane Robinson. Robinson was starting his third consecutive game in place of Matt Holliday, sidelined with back spasms… The Cardinals increased the lead to 2-0 in the fourth when Matt Adams led off with a single and scored on a double by Yadier Molina … The Cardinals only had one hit the remainder of the night, a single by Jon Jay in the seventh, which extended his current hitting streak to 10 games.

On the mound: Wacha allowed only three baserunners, on an error and two walks, before Ryan Zimmerman’s infield hit in the ninth. Wacha struck out nine and threw a career-high 112 pitches … Manager Mike Matheny pulled Wacha after the hit and Trevor Rosenthal retired Jayson Werth on a grounder to first to end the game and record his second save in as many games … Wacha’s win was the 35th recorded by a Cardinals’ rookie this year, the most since the Cardinals also got 35 wins from rookies in 1945… The shutout was the 13th of the year recorded by the Cardinals.

Key stat: The last rookie in the majors to lose a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth was Roy Halladay of Toronto in 1998 … Since 1973, the Cardinals have now had four pitchers lose a no-hit bid in the ninth inning, the most recent Alan Benes with two outs in the ninth in a game at Atlanta on May 16, 1997. The score of that game was 0-0, however, so even if Benes had got the 27th out the game would not have ended. The other two Cardinals to lose a no-hitter in the ninth were Mike Morgan in 1995 and Rick Wise in 1973, both with one out in the ninth.

Of note: The win improved the Cardinals’ record to 93-65, a season-high 28 games over .500 … The longest previous bid for a no-hitter this year by the Cardinals came from Adam Wainwright on May 11, when he gave up his first hit with one out in the eighth. There have only been two no-hitters thrown by a Cardinal in St. Louis since 1924, both by Bob Forsch, one in 1978 and the other in 1983… Forsch’s second no-hitter in 1983 also came against the Nationals’ franchise, when they were still the Expos. The Nationals have never been no-hit since they moved to Washington, with the last no-hitter thrown against the franchise coming in 1999, a perfect game by David Cone.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals will go for a sweep of the three-game series in an afternoon game on Wednesday. Shelby Miller will pitch against Jordan Zimmerman, who will be trying to win his 20th game of the year.