St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals (-134, 7)
Series tied 2-2
The Washington Nationals still don't have their offense clicking in the National League Division Series, but they got the home run when they needed it in Game 4. Jayson Werth’s walk-off blast staved off elimination and gave Washington its first home playoff win since Game 3 of the 1933 World Series. The Nationals now have a chance to clinch the best-of-five series at home against Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The teams combined for only six hits in Washington’s 2-1 win on Thursday afternoon but the last one mattered the most, as Werth fought through a 13-pitch at-bat and hammered a homer into the bullpen in left-center. The Nationals are averaging 2.25 runs in the series, with only Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman batting over .300 among the regulars. The Cardinals exploded offensively in their two victories, totaling 20 runs, but have managed three in their two setbacks. St. Louis batters struck out eight times among nine outs against the Nationals bullpen on Thursday. One of those relievers was Game 2 starter Jordan Zimmermann, who struck out the side in the seventh. Both managers will likely have everyone but the Game 4 starters available in relief on Friday.
TV: 8:37 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-50s under clear skies. Winds will blow in from left field at 9 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Adam Wainwright (0-0, 1.59 ERA) vs. Nationals LH Gio Gonzalez (0-0, 3.60)
Wainwright struck out 10 over 5 2/3 innings in Game 1, allowing one run on six hits while walking three. The veteran right-hander has struggled in three career starts at Nationals Park, going 1-2 with a 7.24 ERA. Wainwright was not a part of St. Louis’ World Series run last October while recovering from Tommy John surgery but is no stranger to big spots. It was Wainwright who struck out Carlos Beltran to end the 2006 NLCS and send the Cardinals to the World Series. He is 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA in 11 career playoff games (two starts).
Gonzalez struggled with his command in Game 1, issuing seven walks in five innings. The left-hander surrendered only one hit but was charged with two runs while striking out five. Gonzalez has not allowed more than three runs in a start since Aug. 3 and has been strong at home, going 9-4 with a 2.38 ERA in 14 starts at Nationals Park.
* Over is 11-3 in the last 14 meetings.
* Cardinals are 2-9 in the last 11 meetings in Washington.
* Cardinals are 6-0 in their last six games following a loss.
* Nationals are 4-0 in Gonzalez’s last four home starts.
UMPIRE TRENDS-Alfonso Marquez
* Over is 7-0 in Marquez’s last seven games behind home plate vs. Washington.
* Home team is 4-0 in Marquez’s last four Friday games behind home plate.
* Cardinals are 19-7 in their last 26 games with Marquez behind home plate.
1. Washington CF Bryce Harper has struggled in the series, going 1-for-18 with eight strikeouts. Danny Espinosa (1-for-12) and Kurt Suzuki (1-for-13) are following closely behind.
2. The Cardinals won four elimination games in the 2011 postseason and took the one-game wild card playoff last week.
3. Werth’s 14 postseason home runs since 2004 are tied for the second-most in the majors over that span, behind only Albert Pujols’ 16.