Nationals vs. Cardinals score: Washington wins Game 1 3-2 on late rally, managerial weirdness

The St. Louis Cardinals had a 2-1 lead for most of the afternoon in Sunday's NLDS Game 1, but it was never very secure, and it was never what it could have been. Two runs on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly were all the Cardinals could score despite taking seven walks and reaching twice on errors, and when, in the top of the eighth, the Nationals took a 3-2 lead following a Pete Kozma error, it seemed almost inevitable.

The Cardinals' inability to take advantage of multiple scoring opportunities was their primary problem all day, but manager Mike Matheny will hear about two particularly strange decisions he made with the game on the line. In the top of the eighth, Matheny went to left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski against pinch-hitter Chad Tracy, but the Nationals countered with right-hander Tyler Moore, who blooped a two-RBI single just over the infield. Boggs had just gotten a crucial strikeout, and Jason Motte was looming in the bullpen.

In the bottom of the inning, the Cardinals' first batter reached on an error, but with the bottom of the order coming Matheny proceeded to call for a bunt, using up one of the Cardinals' six remaining outs. The next five passed without incident, and the Nationals had Game 1 of the NLDS by a final score of 3-2.

None of that would have mattered if the Cardinals had just scored some runs when they had every chance to do it. But the manager's job is to be seen and not heard, and he exacerbated the Cardinals' problems with his late-inning work.

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