- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2012

ST. LOUIS — 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.

“If you go down 2-0, that means the margin for error is [gone],” said second baseman Daniel Descalso, who hit one of four St. Louis home runs. “Now it’s even, basically, it’s a clean slate. Now it’s a three-game series.”

The Cardinals seemed a step ahead the entire way, perhaps best exemplified by Pete Kozma’s hustle in going first-to-third on a Lance Lynn bunt back to reliever Craig Stammen in the fourth. And they kept on going, keeping runners in motion and working quality at-bats as they piled on the runs late.

“Those are the type of plays that sometimes get you going,” said Carlos Beltran, whose two monster homers didn’t hurt.

Added Descalso: “We sort of kept the momentum on our side.”

Garcia leaves with injury

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s decision to pinch-hit for starter Jaime Garcia while leading in the second inning raised some eyebrows at the time, but it turns out it wasn’t purely a tactical move.

Garcia’s arm was bothering him, Matheny revealed after the game, prompting the manager to turn to Lynn out of the bullpen.

“[Garcia] wasn’t feeling good and got to the point where he needed to say something,” Matheny said, “so we had to make a quick move.”

Garcia was sent for an MRI exam Monday night and Matheny said he would have further information Tuesday.

Garcia’s loss shouldn’t have any impact on the rest of the series, as Game 2 would have been his only start, but obviously it could have implications for the Cardinals if they advance.

Playoff format turns into positive development for Nationals

It was a quirk of the Major League Baseball postseason schedule this year that the Washington Nationals ended up here. That they, owners of the league’s best record, opened their first postseason series on the road.

But after a win in Game 1 of their National League Division Series with the Cardinals, the Nationals now face the attractive prospect of heading home to Washington in position to need only two wins, and possibly one depending on the result of Monday’s Game 2.

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