WASHINGTON - JULY 01: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals hits a sacrifice fly to drive in the winning run in the ninth inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on July 1 2010 in Washington DC. The Nationals won the game 2-1. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Cardinals Vs. Nationals: Huge Inning Leads To Huge Rally For A Nationals 8-6 Victory

Starter Yunesky Maya struggles, but the Nationals offense brought the team back from the brink of defeat to shock the NL Central leading Cardinals.

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Cardinals Vs. Nationals Final: Nationals Stun Cardinals 8-6

The St. Louis Cardinals have got to be scratching their heads. What happened? Was it the return of Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman? Was it the opening of the Shake Shack at Nationals Park? Whatever it was, the NL Central leading team was left without solid answers as the Nationals rallied to a 8-6 win at Nationals Park.

The Nationals were down 6-2 in the seventh-inning when they took some frustration out on former Nationals reliever Miguel Batista. The Nationals rallied and scored five runs off Batista, sparked by a Zimmerman RBI double. Batista did not help his own cause loading the bases twice, hitting Roger Bernadina with a pitch and walking in the go ahead run. Pitcher Henry Rodriguez ended up getting the win while Drew Storen recorded his 16th save of the season.

On his return, Zimmerman went 1-for-5 with a RBI, second baseman Danny Espinosa had a big night going 3-for-5 with a RBI and right fielder Jayson Werth tacked on a insurance run in the seventh going 2-for-4 with a RBI and a walk. On the other side of the ball, Nationals starter Yunesky Maya once again had trouble only going four innings giving up six runs on nine hits. One has to think the Nationals will not have much more patience waiting for him to get it together, not with how well the rest of the rotation is doing.

Center fielder Rick Ankiel left the game in the second-inning after suffering a intercostal strain (rib cage).

The Nationals move to 31-36 and are slowly closing the gap on the fourth place New York Mets in the NL East.


Cardinals Vs. Nationals Score: Nationals Get Hit Hard Into 6-1 Hole

The Washington Nationals are glad to have third baseman Ryan Zimmerman back, but they aren't exactly having the return game they were hoping for. The St. Louis Cardinals have jumped all over the Nationals early Tuesday night and have not shown any signs of relinquishing a 6-1 lead going into the sixth-inning.

Starter Yunesky Maya looked completely over matched from the get go. Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols started off the scoring for St. Louis (and the beginning of Washington's troubles) in the first-inning by smashing a two-run home run. Lance Berkman added to the damage in the fourth-inning by hitting a solo home run of his own. The Cards then tacked on three more runs in the fifth and chased Maya from the game after just four innings. Reliever Ryan Mattheus made his debut after Maya left and was able to get the final out of the inning.

The Nationals only run came in the fourth when Michael Morse scored on a Roger Bernadina single. Zimmerman is a bit rusty and is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts to start the night.


Cardinals Vs. Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman Returns Against Cardinals

It is a night Washington Nationals fans have been waiting for a long time. For more than two months the Nationals have been without their All-Star, Gold Glove third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman has not played since April 9th due to a torn abdominal muscle and had to go in for surgery in early May to repair the damage. On Tuesday night the "Face of the Franchise" returns to his corner infield position at Nationals Park against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Zimmerman's presence on the field should put fans into a jubilant mood and boost confidence in the Nationals clubhouse, including pitcher Yunesky Maya (0-1, 5.40 ERA) who will be heading to the mound to face the Cardinals Jaime Garcia (6-2, 3.20 ERA). Not a high strike out pitcher, Maya should feel confident at least the left side of the infield is covered by arguably the best third baseman in the league. It might take a little bit for Zimmerman to find his groove again, but a decent Zimmerman is better than no Zimmerman at all.

Manager Jim Riggleman continues to bat right fielder Jayson Werth in lead-off while batting the pitcher eighth. Zimmerman will bat in his usual position in the line-up, third, while Michael Morse will bat clean-up.

To make room for Zimmerman coming off the DL, the Nationals returned pitcher Craig Stammen to Syracuse.

Nationals Line-Up

Jayson Werth - RF
Ian Desmond - SS
Ryan Zimmerman - 3B
Michael Morse - 1B
Danny Espinosa - 2B
Wilson Ramos - C
Rick Ankiel - CF
Yunesky Maya - P
Jerry Hairston Jr. - LF

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