The Washington Times - October 9, 2012, 08:14AM

ST. LOUIS — The Nationals had an upbeat tone Monday evening as they packed to head back to D.C. knowing that all they have to do is win one three-game series and their season will continue.

They did what they wanted to do in St. Louis by getting a split and they seemed to be wasting little time lamenting what could’ve been had they taken a 2-0 lead and headed home with a stranglehold on the series.

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We had several different articles in print and online from our coverage of Game 2 of the NLDS, so here’s a quick-link guide to all of it with plenty more to come later in the day as the Nationals and Cardinals work out at Nationals Park starting at 12:30 p.m.

Cardinals pummel Nationals, 12-4, even NLCS: Jordan Zimmermann took his right foot and grazed it across the dirt in front of the rubber slab on the mound at Busch Stadium. It was his silent protest. His second to wonder how things had spiraled so far out of control. All around him the world was spinning. White towels on the arms of 45,840 St. Louis Cardinals fans waved in jubilation as Allen Craig rounded the bases. Zimmermann stood alone. The highest point on the field was the personal island for a Washington Nationals starting pitcher for the second straight day. It wasn’t the defining moment in the Nationals’ 12-4 loss to the Cardinals in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. It couldn’t be. Not when there were three other St. Louis home runs to point to, 12 other hits and 11 other runners who’d cross home plate. The fans, clad in red and white and reveling in a crisp fall afternoon at the ballpark, called out the rising run totals with glee. In the sixth inning, 2 ½ hours after the game began, they were falling into a delirious tizzy by the time they reached the number eight. Read the full story here. 

Battling illness, Bryce Harper’s offensive woes persist: Strep throat has complicated Harper’s introduction to the postseason. The all-consuming hustle is there. Same for the greasy smears of eye black. But, at least yet, the results haven’t matched Harper’s remarkable rookie season in which he hit .270 with 22 home runs. All four of Harper’s strikeouts Monday came swinging. But he expressed no concern about the goings-on at the plate and refused to retreat to any explanation, even the bothersome early-innings shadow that crept across the field. His teammates aren’t worried, either.Read Nathan Fenno’s full story here. 

SNYDER: The sooner this loss is forgotten, the better for the Nationals: If you thought advancing to the next round would be easy as 1-2-3, the idea began evaporating as the Cards strung 1-2-3-4 consecutive hits to open the second inning. St. Louis batters also homered in four of the next six innings, removing any doubt that Monday just was one of those days for Washington’s vaunted pitching staff. Good thing the sum equaled one loss. That made it easier for the Nats to fly home and be content with a split. Forget about Game 2. That has to be the mantra for Washington as it prepares to host the next two or three contests at Nationals Park. As poorly as the Nats performed and as badly as they were outscored, they accomplished the main objective in St. Louis. Read Deron Snyder’s full column here. 

Cardinals embraced must-win mindset, Jaime Garcia leaves with injury, playoff format is positive for Nats: Facing the possibility of heading to Washington down 2-0 in a best-of-five series, the St. Louis Cardinals treated Monday like an elimination game. The aggressor from the beginning in Game 2, the Cardinals jumped on the Nationals with a four-run second inning and continued to apply pressure, ensuring they wouldn’t let another winnable game slip away as they rolled to a 12-4 rout. Read Marc Lancaster’s notebook here. 

Game 3 time announced for 1 p.m. Wednesday; TV ratings all relative: The first major league postseason game in the District in 79 years will be an old-fashioned weekday afternoon affair. Game 3 of the NLDS will start at 1:07 p.m. Wednesday and will be televised on MLB Network with Bob Costas and Jim Kaat on the call. Read the rest of Marc Lancaster’s notes from Game 2 here. 

After Game 1 the Cardinals’ lone lefty a cause for concern:  In as baseball-obsessed a city as there is in the major leagues, there’s bound to be more attention paid to the ins and outs of the game here than most places. There was, then, considerable discussion online, on local radio and in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last night and this morning about Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s decision to pull Mitchell Boggs in the eighth inning of Game 1 in favor of his lone lefty in the bullpen, Marc Rzepczynski. That move, of course, prompted Davey Johnson to pull back pinch-hitter Chad Tracy, a lefty, and send up rookie Tyler Moore, who ultimately poked a two-run single to right that proved to be the difference in the game. Read Marc Lancaster’s full story here.

Ian Desmond’s break out season draws praise: In his first career playoff game, Ian Desmond was perhaps the player who seemed most unflappable on Sunday. Desmond was 3 for 4 for the Nationals on Sunday. He scored the game-winning run on Tyler Moore’s soft single to right field and helped make Ryan Mattheus‘ two-pitch, three-out inning a reality with a strong, controlled throw to force out Jon Jay at home plate for the inning’s first out. “He’s kind of proven that all year,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “I don’t know that he lets the game or the circumstances dictate the way he plays. … He’s been fun to watch from last year, and how much he’s evolved into a really good all-around ballplayer. And I don’t know that he’s scratched the surface yet.” Read the full story here. 

Christian Garcia’s playoff debut leaves him wanting more:  Christian Garcia wants more. Lost in the debris of Monday’s eight-run loss by the Nationals in Game 2 of the division series were Garcia’s 28 pitches. Mop-up relief doesn’t merit much attention, but Garcia occupies a unique position on the staff. The 27-year-old survived two Tommy John surgeries to rebuild his right elbow, signed with the Nationals as a minor league free agent and started the season with Double-A Harrisburg. That’s hardly the stuff October dreams are made of. But Garcia’s overpowering fastball and knee-buckling breaking ball caught manager Davey Johnson’s attention after the pitcher was summoned to Washington in September. Read Nathan Fenno’s full story here. 

Davey Johnson’s thoughts on NLDS Game 2: Nationals manager Davey Johnson discussed his team’s rocky starting pitching, and a Cardinals’ offense he’d like to never see again in his post-game comments before the Nationals headed home. Read some of Johnson’s comments here.