By Lewis Gould
Howie Kendrick finished a double shy of hitting for a cycle, Patrick Corbin pitched six strong innings, and the Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 to hold onto the first wild card spot in the NL by a game and a half.
St. Louis leads the NL Central by two games over the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, and the Nationals hold the NL’s top wild card over the Cubs and Brewers.
Corbin (13-7) struck out 11 while giving up two unearned runs and five hits in six innings. He walked four in his second win in two starts at Busch Stadium. The last one came May 20, 2016, when he pitched for the Diamondbacks.
“I felt really good all night. I had good fastball command on both sides of the plate and my slider was really good,” Corbin said. “They came out and they’re pretty aggressive so I was able to use that pitch a little bit more. They’re a great team over there. You make a mistake and you’ll pay.”
Daniel Hudson got the last six outs for his fourth save.
“They’ve got one of the best pitching staffs in the league. Period,” Kolten Wong said. “Corbin’s one of the best lefties in the game. He kept us off-balance. He did his thing.”
Miles Mikolas (9-14) pitched six innings before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. He allowed three runs on eight hits and became the first Cardinals pitcher to lose 14 games in a season since Braden Looper went 12-14 in 2008.
Kendrick hit a solo homer in the fourth, giving Washington a 2-1 lead. Since returning from the injured list on Aug. 12, Kendrick is hitting. 466 (27 for 58) with seven doubles, four homers, 13 RBIs, four walks and 14 runs scored in 23 games. His 16 home runs this season are most since he hit a career-high 18 in 2011 when he played for the Los Angeles Angels.
Juan Soto led off the sixth with a double. The play was close at second and St. Louis challenged the safe call. The decision stood after a review of 1 minute, 29 seconds. He later scored on a two-out single by Victor Robles to extend Washington’s lead to 3-1.
The Cardinals made it 3-2 in the sixth when Harrison Bader stole second as pinch-hitter Jose Martinez struck out. The throw by Yan Gomes went into center for an error and Tommy Edman scored from third.
Robles drove in a run in the eighth on a single and Gomes hit an RBI double to give the Nationals a 5-2 edge. Washington added a run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Soto.
St. Louis loaded the bases with one in the third but only managed one unearned run to tie it 1-1. Mikolas scored on an error by shortstop Trea Turner with two outs.
“Patrick Corbin had the bases loaded there. It was a fantastic job of pitching to give up just the one run,” said Chip Hale, who is filling for the ailing manager Dave Martinez. “That was a pivotal part of the game.”
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Kendrick led off with a triple that hit the wall in center. He scored on Asdrubal Cabrera’s sacrifice fly.