WASHINGTON (AP) - Jordan Zimmermann knows where the blame lies in this loss.
Zimmermann gave up a career-high eight runs in his shortest start of the season and the Washington Nationals lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 10-9 Saturday.
``The offense did a great job, you have to tip your cap to those guy, they give you six runs,' Zimmermann said. ``You do all you can to keep the team in the game and you can't hold it down. This loss is totally my fault.'
Zimmermann was staked to leads of 4-0 and 6-2 but he labored through 3 2-3 innings. He allowed eight hits.
David Freese homered, drove in three runs and had a go-ahead single in the ninth inning as the Cardinals ended a four-game skid.
Along with Freese's two-run homer in the second, Zimmermann gave up Matt Holliday's two-run homer in the third and Matt Carpenter's three-run double in the fourth.
The Nationals led 6-2 in the second inning and, after falling behind by two runs in the fourth, rallied for three in the sixth to take a 9-8 lead. Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa each homered for Washington.
St. Louis tied it in the eighth on Carlos Beltran's pinch-hit single off Nationals reliever Sean Burnett. Craig led off the ninth with a single against Drew Storen (1-1). One out later he stole second base and later raced home on Freese's looping hit over the Nationals infield.
Mitchell Boggs (3-1) pitched a spotless eighth. Jason Motte, the last of five St. Louis relievers to follow starter Kyle Lohse, notched his 32nd save.
Freese homered in the second, but LaRoche countered with his own two-run blast in the bottom of the inning. The Nationals first baseman finished with three RBIs.
Holliday launched the first pitch he saw from Zimmermann deep to center field for his 25th home run on the season.
Down 6-4 in the fourth, the Cardinals loaded the bases on a double and two hit batters, and Carpenter cleared them with a double off the right field wall, giving Lohse and St. Louis a 7-6 lead.
``With bases loaded and two outs there, I threw a slider, left it up a little bit,' Zimmermann said. ``It was a double. Kind of sums up my day.'
Zimmermann entered the day second in the National League with a 2.63 ERA. After the loss, his ERA jumped to 3.01.
``He left a ball up, he couldn't them down. Even his sliders were up,' Nationals manager Davey Johnson said about his usually reliable starter. ``I felt like he was going to make some adjustments, but he couldn't make any adjustments.'
Perhaps the bigger concern for the NL East-leading Nationals, who remain 6 1-2 games ahead of Atlanta, is this was Zimmermann's fourth straight rough outing. In that span, Zimmermann is 0-3 with a 7.92 ERA after he went 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA in his previous nine outings.
Johnson theorized that an extra day of rest gave Zimmermann more strength on his breaking pitches than desired. Zimmermann did not endorse the theory, not that he had a better one.
``When it was going good, it felt like I could go up there and threw anything and it would be a strike or a groundball,' Zimmermann said. ``I'm trying to do the same thing I've been doing all year and they're just putting the ball in play and hitting it a little harder.'
The Nationals jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first against Lohse, who allowed eight runs - five earned - and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings.
In the eighth down 8-6, Espinosa homered and Jayson Werth's double chased Lohse. Later in the inning Ryan Zimmerman's single scored Werth, who beat the throw home from right fielder Allen Craig while Zimmerman looked to take an extra base on the play.
Catcher Yadier Molina attempted to wipe out Zimmerman at second base, but his toss allowed Bryce Harper to score from first. The racing 19-year-old slid in safely putting the Nationals ahead 9-8.
NOTES: Werth was removed in the ninth inning with leg cramps. .Harper finished with two hits for the fourth straight game. .The Nationals reinstated OF Mark DeRosa from the 15-day DL and recalled pitcher John Lannan, catcher Sandy Leon and outfielder Eury Perez from Triple-A Syracuse. Perez took over for Werth defensively in the ninth ...Stephen Strasburg takes the mound for one of his few remaining starts this year in Sunday's series finale against Cardinals pitcher Jake Westbrook.
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