- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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 in the Nationals’ 8-0 Game 3 loss in National League Division Series  on Wednesday.

“It’s the same as regular season. It’s nothing different,” Morse said. “[Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter] threw some good pitches; he’s a good pitcher.”

The Nats as a team were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Morse had two big chances to change the course of Game 3, first with runners on the corners and two outs in the first and the Nationals already trailing 1-0. After making Carpenter work, he struck out swinging.

“He threw a good pitch,” Morse said. “He threw a cutter away.”

The most talked about at-bat, though, came in the fifth with the bases loaded and Carpenter tiring. Morse looked for something over the middle and got a sinker inside; the fly out to right ended the threat.

“Mikey’s been great all year, and I think a lot of us have done well in those positions this year. We have a bunch of guys that have driven in a lot of runs,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “Mikey put a good swing on it, it just got in on him. That’s one of the cases where he made a good pitch.”

Second inning of doom

As Edwin Jackson watched Pete Kozma round the bases after depositing a fastball into the left-field seats, it was an all-too-familiar sight for the Nationals in this series. Through three games, the Nationals have imploded in the second inning, giving up nine runs on eight hits.

The Cardinals took advantage of Gio Gonzalez’s inaccuracy in Game 1 and shelled Jordan Zimmermann to the tune of four straight hits on the way to the showers in Game 2. In Game 3, Jackson allowed a leadoff double by David Freese then a single by Daniel Descalso before Kozma’s home run, which made it 4-0.

Asked to explain why the Cardinals have shelled the Nationals in the second inning, Jackson replied: “I’m not sure. I wish I could answer it. It just coincidentally happened like that, I guess.”

Stammen’s struggles continue

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