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Preview: Cardinals (55-48) at Nationals (56-45)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 3
Venue: Nationals Park
Date: April 24, 2013 1:05 PM EDT
  

A controversial decision kept Stephen Strasburg from facing the St. Louis Cardinals in last year's playoffs.

The Washington Nationals' staff ace is now trying to avoid the longest slide of his career, but he's not entirely to blame.

Hindered by a lack of run support and sloppy defense, Strasburg tries to avoid a fourth straight loss and salvage a victory for the Nationals in Wednesday's series finale with the visiting Cardinals.

Washington (10-10) had an innings limit on Strasburg last year since it was his first full season returning from Tommy John surgery. That decision fueled national debate, with the Nationals unexpectedly leading the majors with 98 wins and claiming the NL East to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1981 as the Montreal Expos.

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With the ace out, Washington exited the NL division series in five games at the hands of the Cardinals (12-8).

Strasburg (1-3, 2.96 ERA) got this year off to a strong start, allowing three hits in seven innings of a 2-0 win over Miami on April 1. Since then, however, the right-hander has matched a career high by losing three straight starts.

Over the last two games, Strasburg has done his part, with only two of the six runs allowed in 12 innings counting as earned. He's been backed by one run in each contest.

He pitched well enough to win his only meeting with St. Louis on Sept. 2, yielding two hits with nine strikeouts in six scoreless innings before the bullpen wasted his effort in a 4-3 home win.

The offense continues to be a problem for the Nationals, who try to avoid a six-game home losing streak for the first time since Sept. 7-20, 2010. They're batting .163 and have plated seven runs over that stretch, and rank toward the bottom of the NL with a .236 average on the season.

The Nationals were shut down by Adam Wainwright on Tuesday, managing five hits in a 2-0 loss to fall for the eighth time in 11 games.

"I'm usually pretty patient, but I'm getting at my rope's end," manager Davey Johnson said. "The effort's there, but we're just not getting it done. We've got the players to get it done. We're just not getting it done. It's time to get a little mad."

Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa - Washington's 2-4-5-6-7 hitters - are a combined 4 for 38 in this series.

Bryce Harper continues to be a bright spot, hitting .385 at home after getting two hits Tuesday. His only hit in three at_bats versus Jaime Garcia - the Cardinals' scheduled starter Wednesday - was a solo homer, but he fanned in both postseason matchups.

Garcia (1-1, 3.22) will try to help St. Louis complete the series sweep by rebounding from perhaps the worst start of his four-plus years in the majors.

The left-hander was tagged for a career-high eight runs - four earned - and nine hits in three innings of a rain-shortened 8-2 loss at Philadelphia on Friday. He had a 1.86 ERA over his first three starts.

"Next time, we expect to see the Jaime we have been seeing," manager Mike Matheny told the team's official website.

That certainly wasn't the case in Garcia's last start at Washington on Aug. 30, when he surrendered six runs and two homers in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-1 loss.

He faced the Nationals again in Game 2 of the NLDS, but a shoulder injury forced him to exit after two innings, allowing one run and three walks.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Cardinals at Nationals
Mon, Apr 22 Final 3 to 2
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 2
Cardinals at Nationals
Tue, Apr 23 Final 2 to 0
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 3
Cardinals at Nationals
Wed, Apr 24 Final 4 to 2
 Boxscores    Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 STL  +145   -160   7 
 WAS  -155   +140   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 STL  +145   -155   7 
 WAS  -160   +135   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 STL  21%   14%   78% 
 WAS  79%   86%   22% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 MLB HEAD TO HEAD
 Apr 23, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 2 Cover: +100 
 WAS 0 Under: 2 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 22, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 3 Cover: +100 
 WAS 2 Under: 5 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Mar 15, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 1 Over: 6 
 STL 5 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 8, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 16 Cover: +135 
 WAS 10 Over: 26 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 3, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 6 Over: 13 
 WAS 7 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 2, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 6 Cover: +115 
 STL 2 Over: 8 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Oct 12, 2012  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 9 Cover: +118 
 WAS 7 Over: 16 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Oct 11, 2012  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 1 Under: 3 
 WAS 2 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Oct 10, 2012  Score  ATS Results 
 STL 8 Cover: +100 
 WAS 0 Over: 8 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Oct 8, 2012  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 4 Over: 16 
 STL 12 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps

 MLB PREVIEWS
 Wednesday, Apr 24
 
    Blue Jays at Orioles
12:35 PM EDT
    Cubs at Reds
12:35 PM EDT
    Cardinals at Nationals
1:05 PM EDT
    Indians at White Sox
2:10 PM EDT
    Mariners at Astros
2:10 PM EDT
    Braves at Rockies
3:10 PM EDT
    Diamondbacks at Giants
3:45 PM EDT
    Athletics at Red Sox
4:05 PM EDT
    Royals at Tigers
7:05 PM EDT
    Pirates at Phillies
7:05 PM EDT
    Dodgers at Mets
7:10 PM EDT
    Yankees at Rays
7:10 PM EDT
    Rangers at Angels
10:05 PM EDT
    Brewers at Padres
10:10 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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