WASHINGTON – Stephen Strasburg took his turn silencing the Cardinals' struggling bats, Nationals postseason star Howie Kendrick doubled three times and drove in three more runs, and Washington moved one win from the city's first World Series appearance in 86 years by beating St. Louis 8-1 Monday night to take a 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.
After Nationals starters Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer flirted with no-hitters in the first two games of the best-of-seven series, Strasburg wasn't quite that untouchable: He allowed a double in the second inning, six later singles and one unearned run. Still, he was rather dominant for seven innings, striking out 12 batters and finishing off each one with an off-speed pitch.
The Cardinals, quite simply, can't hit in this NLCS: They have a grand total of two runs and 11 hits through three games. Washington's three starters have a combined ERA — no calculator necessary for this one — of 0.00.
Yes, that's zero-point-zero-zero.
Now it's Patrick Corbin's chance to see if he can match his rotation-mates. The $140 million lefty will start for the Nationals in Game 4 on Tuesday night, when they can close out a sweep at home.
Washington hasn't put a baseball team in the World Series since 1933, when the Senators lost to the New York Giants in five games. The nation's capital owns only one MLB championship; the Senators won all the way back in 1924. There wasn't even a baseball team at all in Washington for more than three decades until the Montreal Expos franchise moved to town before the 2005 season and was renamed the Nationals.
Until this season, the Nationals hadn't won a playoff series, going 0-4 since 2012, but they sure look as if they're making up for lost time.
"Shoot, maybe we're finally coming around," third baseman Anthony Rendon said.
It all starts with the pitching.
"That's what our team is built around. You have those guys, those horses, that take the ball every fifth day," said Ryan Zimmerman, who drove in two runs. "They haven't disappointed, obviously, in the postseason, but they've kind of been the backbone of this team all year."
Seven of Washington's eight runs in Game 3 came with two outs, and there were contributions from up and down the lineup. Victor Robles homered in his return after a five-game absence with a leg injury, and Rendon heard "MVP!" chants after a slick defensive play at third base and an RBI double.