ST. LOUIS -- With a pair of solo homers and a go-ahead RBI double off Jonathan Broxton in the eighth, Ryan Zimmerman helped the Nationals salvage a win during their three-game visit to Busch Stadium. Washington's 4-3 victory halted the Cardinals' winning streak at four games.
Zimmerman, who homered in each of the first two games of the series, took fill-in starter Tyler Lyons deep with solo shots in the fourth and sixth. Jayson Werth preceded those blasts with one of his own, a solo homer in the third inning that erased the Cardinals' early lead.
"Three [pitches] there that I would definitely like to have back," Lyons said. "They were elevated and over the middle."
After twice battling back to tie the score, the Cardinals opted to pitch to Zimmerman with a runner on second and one out in the eighth. Zimmerman made them pay with the run-scoring double off Broxton, who has been scored upon in his last two outings.
Pitching in his hometown, Max Scherzer was in line for his 12th win until the Nationals' bullpen lost a lead for a third straight night. Both Scherzer and Lyons, who was a late replacement for scheduled starter Michael Wacha, finished six innings.
With the win, the Nationals kept pace with the Mets, who defeated the Phillies and lead the National League East by 6 1/2 games. The Cardinals still hold a six-game advantage over the Pirates in the NL Central.
"The Cardinals are a tough team to close out," Zimmerman said. "They grind out at-bats, the last six to nine outs. Unfortunately, they came back and got us. We have been playing good baseball. We can take this momentum home and try to continue to win series."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Zimmerman reaches milestone and then some: Zimmerman became the first member of the Nationals to hit his 200th career home run. The milestone blast came in the sixth inning off Lyons and gave Washington a one-run lead. Zimmerman also drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning with an RBI double off Broxton.
"Most importantly, it's a big win for us," Zimmerman said. "I'd rather not talk [about the hot streak]. I just want to keep going. Just come to the field and doing the stuff I've been doing before the game, staying consistent, going with that approach, not try to do too much and hit the ball hard." More >
Brandon's blast: One day after drilling a walk-off homer, Brandon Moss blasted a second-inning pitch by Scherzer 454 feet into the right-field seats to give St. Louis an early one-run lead. The homer, Moss' fourth in seven days, is the farthest ever hit by a left-handed hitter at Busch Stadium III. Overall, it registered as the stadium's fifth-longest homer.
"I'm seeing the ball as good as I could ask for off of him," said Moss, who became the sixth Cardinals player to hit a walk-off homer and follow it with a home run in his first at-bat the next game. "I got behind, then worked to 3-2, and I knew leading off the inning he doesn't want to take the chance to walk you, so he's going to go right after you. I just tried to be ready, and I got a good pitch to hit."
Scherzer has much better outing: The Cardinals collected 11 hits off Scherzer, who pitched six innings, allowed two runs and struck out 10. It was his best outing since July 30, when he threw seven shutout innings against the Marlins.
"[The Cardinals] grinded out a bunch of hits against me. I was always able to find a way to make a big pitch in a big situation for the most part and keep them at bay," Scherzer said. "Any time you don't give up walks, that's a huge reason why I was able to give up only two runs tonight. It was because I didn't walk anybody. I was constantly on the attack, and pitched ahead in the count."
Two-out tallies: The Cardinals, who entered the game hitting .210 with two outs and runners in scoring position, twice scratched back to tie the score with a two-out RBI single. Tommy Pham delivered the first, dropping a single off Scherzer into right with runners on the corners in the fifth. Two innings later, Kolten Wong's two-out single capped a game-tying rally against the Nationals' bullpen.
Pap comes through: Nationals manager Matt Williams has said that Jonathan Papelbon will only pitch in save situations. Given one on Wednesday, Papelbon entered in the ninth inning. It wasn't easy, but he saved his 23rd game of the season.
"They are the best team in baseball right now," Papelbon said. "It pretty much shows that we could play with anybody out there."
"This is the guy we were hoping he would be. He is feeling good about where he is right now and being able to contribute, and we're going to keep getting him in there to see if he can help us out." -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on Moss
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Wednesday marked the first time in Cardinals history (dating back to 1914) that the team tallied 16 or more hits and scored three runs or fewer in a nine-inning game. The Cardinals hadn't lost any game in which they had 16 hits since falling to the D-backs on April 12, 2011.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: The Nationals return to Nationals Park to play a four-game series against the Braves starting Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will take the mound. In his last start, Zimmermann turned in seven strong innings in the Nationals' 5-1 victory over the Marlins, scattering seven hits. Justin Bour's second-deck home run in the seventh was the only interruption in a string of zeros.
Cardinals: Following an off-day on Thursday, the Cardinals will open a big three-game series against the National League Central-rival Pirates. Carlos Martinez will start Friday's opener at 7:15 p.m. CT on eight days' rest and will be opposed by J.A. Happ. The Cardinals are 5-1 at home against the Pirates this season.