The Washington Times - October 11, 2012, 08:40AM

By virtue of the Oakland Athletics forcing a Game 5 with the Detroit Tigers Thursday evening, the Washington Nationals’ season will be on the line at 4:07 p.m. Thursday afternoon. (Had the A’s lost, the Nationals would’ve played at 5:07 p.m.)

But the first part remains the same. The Nationals loss in Wednesday’s Game 3, an 8-0 drubbing, pushed them to the brink of elimination. One more loss and their charmed season is over. 

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Ross Detwiler will go to the mound trying to do what none of his other starters have been able to yet, and that’s hold down the St. Louis Cardinals offense, which has outscored the Nationals 22-7 in the series.

With seven hours until the first pitch, here is a quick-link guide to all of the coverage from the first MLB playoff game in D.C. in 79 years:

Nationals on the verge of elimination after latest blowout loss: The Washington Nationals stood on the field Wednesday afternoon soaking in just what their season had done to the city of Washington, D.C. From their spots along the first base line, they gazed out at a record crowd of red-towel-waving fans showering them with appreciation for helping them fall in love with a team and a sport over the course of eight months. But in the clubhouse, after they’d given those same fans little to cheer about once the pregame ceremonies were complete, there was only silence. Their 8-0 loss to St. Louis in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in a race to three victories, warranted nothing else. All of the excitement they’d packed into a captivating year, all of the joy they’d experienced by becoming the best team in baseball, was replaced with one stark reality: The Nationals’ season could end Thursday. Read the full story here. 

The Nationals came up small with runners in scoring position: It wouldn’t have taken much to make a crowd of 45,017 at Nationals Park explode. Perhaps a big hit by Michael Morse with the bases loaded in the fifth inning that could have tied the score against the St. Louis Cardinals would’ve done the trick. “Mikey Mo had a chance to get the fans on their feet,” infielder Mark DeRosa said. Instead, Morse flew out to right, part of his rough 0-for-4 day that was emblematic of the Washington Nationals’ teamwide struggles with runners in scoring position. The big left fielder came up small, 0-for-2 in those spots. The Nats as a team were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.Read the full story by Steve Whyno here. 

The second inning is killing the Nationals; Stammen continued to struggle; a blown call hurt the Nationals; record attendance at Nationals Park: Through three games, the Nationals have imploded in the second inning, giving up nine runs on eight hits. Read the full notebook by Steve Whyno here. 

DALY: Cardinals know how to win in October: The St. Louis Cardinals are what the Washington Nationals want to be. If we’ve learned anything from the first three games of this playoff series, we’ve learned that. Forget regular-season records. The Cardinals win when they need to win. They’ve been there, done that — and they continue to do it, currently at the expense of the Nats, who after Wednesday’s 8-0 home defeat are just nine innings from Next Year… The Cardinals might be the most underrated defending World Series champ in recent memory. This is a club, I’ll just remind you, that won the title last year without Adam Wainwright and made the playoffs this year without a single win from Chris Carpenter. Read Dan Daly’s full column here. 

The Nationals, the big game, helped to heal a solder: In a quiet corner of the room covered with cherry wood walls and shiny floors under a sprawling buffet, Staff Sgt. Brian Keaton sank into a leather chair. He sipped a cola from a plastic cup. The dull roar from sold-out Nationals Park on Wednesday afternoon leaked through. None of this felt real. Every few seconds, the sergeant’s face twitched. That didn’t erase — not even for an instant — his stunned smile.Read Nathan Fenno’s great story of how baseball has helped Keaton’s recovery.

Ian Desmond a rare bright spot at the plate for the Nationals: Before Game 3 of the National League Division Series, Ian Desmond got to speak with Frank Robinson, the ex-Washington manager who was set to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. In their conversation, Robinson didn’t offer Desmond any advice, and the Washington Nationals’ All-Star shortstop — who wears No. 20 in Robinson’s honor — didn’t need it. While many of his teammates struggled at the plate in an 8-0 loss, Desmond brought his bat, going 3 for 4 as one of the few bright spots. He is 7-for-12 in the NLDS. Read Steve Whyno’s full story on Desmond here. 

SNYDER: Veteran Edwin Jackson failed to perform as advertised: Instead of crossing over to the brink of the NLCS, Washington was left on the verge of extinction as St. Louis got to Edwin Jackson early in an 8-0 loss. All of his postseason experience went for naught as the Cards tagged him for four runs on six hits through two innings. He settled down after that, but it was too late.Read Deron Snyder’s full column here.

Mark DeRosa plans to address Nationals before Game 4: Mark DeRosa knows what his role is on the Washington Nationals. From the first day the veteran arrived in spring training he spoke of understand that he was brought in to be not only a utility man but also a key presence in the clubhouse. So with the team one loss away from being eliminated from the playoffs and their charmed season ending, DeRosa said Wednesday he’d give a speech to the team before Thursday’s Game 4. “‘There is no tomorrow,’ even though that’s stating the obvious. I think you approach each pitch like that — you can’t do it for 162 — but you can do it for a short series. You can do it when the money’s on the line.” Read the full story with DeRosa’s comments here. 

Chris Carpenter pitches like his old self after surgery: Chris Carpenter sauntered through a concrete tunnel in Nationals Park, a cup of Gatorade in his right hand and an easy grin on his face. After 5 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday afternoon, the 37-year-old’s day was done. His St. Louis Cardinals had clinched a 2-1 lead in the National League Division Series, and Carpenter had won his first game since Game 7 of of the 2011 World Series. The former Cy Young winner threw 106 pitches, struck out two and even collected a pair of hits at the plate in the Cardinals’ 8-0 demolition of the Nationals. The most impressive part of his performance, however, may be that he was able to pitch at all. Read Tom Schad’s full story here. 

Kyle Lohse ready to pitch the Cardinals into another postseason round: Last Friday, Kyle Lohse took the mound in Atlanta for an elimination game and came away with the win, leading the St. Louis Cardinals ahead to the next round of the playoffs. He’ll be in position to do that again Thursday at Nationals Park, with one key difference: “The good part is it’s not an elimination for us,” he said. “That’s better.” The Cardinals‘ second consecutive blowout of the Nationals saw to that. After stumbling in the opening game Sunday in St. Louis, the defending World Series champions are now firmly in control, even though the rest of the series will be played in Washington.Read Marc Lancaster’s full story here. 

Frank Robinson: D.C. fans ‘deserve’ playoff baseball: If not for a second-half collapse back in 2005, playoff baseball might have returned to D.C. much sooner than Wednesday. No one knows that better than Frank Robinson, the Hall of Famer who managed the franchise through the final three seasons in Montreal and the first two in Washington. The Lerner family invited him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the NLDS, and the occasion brought to mind those fleeting playoff hopes the Nats had seven years ago. Read Marc Lancaster’s full story of Robinsons’ first-pitch and more here. 

Ross Detwiler relaxed and ready for Game 4 start: Ross Detwiler was born in St. Louis and graduated from Wentzville Holt High School, a mere 45 minutes outside the city. But when it comes to home-cooking, nobody is happier to be back in Washington than the Nationals lefty, who will start Game 4 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday afternoon. The 26-year-old has been two completely different pitchers at home and on the road this season. Away from Nationals Park, he’s 2-6 with a 4.38 ERA. But when he toes the rubber at home, he’s 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA. Read the full story by Tom Schad here. 

Bryce Harper used special contact lenses to help with the sun again Thursday: Harper popped out of the dugout during optional batting practice Wednesday morning wearing red contact lenses that had been recommended by his eye doctor to help fight the sun. The contacts, which became popular a few years back and are still used by a lot of soccer goalies in Europe, are supposed to help block out UV rays and reduce glare the same way sunglasses would, and help green and red colors pop more to make the white ball easier to identify. Read the full story here. 

Nats fans savor D.C. baseball history despite shutout: A record crowd ignited Nationals Park on Wednesday as season-ticket veterans and fair-weather fans alike swarmed the riverfront area to be a part of D.C. baseball history. More than 45,000 people came out to watch the postseason match-up between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals, despite a Cardinals shutout that gave a bittersweet taste to the first Major League Baseball playoff game in the District in nearly 80 years. Read Meredith Somers’ full story here. 

PHOTO GALLERY: Washington Times photographer Andrew Harnik’s fantastic photo gallery of all of the game action can be found here. 

PHOTO GALLERY: Playoff celebration turns to tears for fans. Check out the sights from around Nationals Park here. 

VIDEO: Fans played hooky to be part of Nationals history in D.C. Check out the video here.