WASHINGTON (AP) — Lance Lynn was sharper than he had had been all season, which made it all the more frustrating for him when he failed to make it out of the sixth inning.
Bryce Harper didn't get past the sixth inning either, but for a completely different reason.
Lynn won his fourth straight start and delivered an RBI double after yet another error by Washington, and the St. Louis Cardinals scored three unearned runs to beat Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals 4-3 Saturday.
Lynn (4-0) gave up one run and five hits over 5 2-3 innings in becoming the NL's first four-game winner. After the right-hander lost his control in the sixth, Kevin Siegrist retired Danny Espinosa on a two-out fly ball with the bases loaded.
"I'm not going to lie to you, my stuff was better today than it's been all year," Lynn said. "That's the disappointing thing about the way the game finished for me today."
Harper, meanwhile, was pulled after Nationals first-year manager Matt Williams questioned the manner in which the young outfielder ran out a comebacker leading off the sixth.
"Lack of hustle. That's why he came out of the game," Williams said. "He and I made an agreement, this team made an agreement, that when we play the game, that we hustle at all times."
Now in his third season, the 21-year-old Harper is one of Washington's brightest stars. The two-time All-Star once ran into a wall in the relentless pursuit of a fly ball, but on this day Harper was left explaining an act of nonchalance.
"I respect what he did," Harper said of Williams' decision. "That's part of the game."
Tony Cruz drove in two runs for the Cardinals, who have won nine of the last 10 games between the teams.
St. Louis took control with a three-run second inning fueled by third baseman Anthony Rendon's throwing error, capped by Lynn's first career extra-base hit. The Nationals, under former Gold Glove third baseman Williams, are averaging more than an error per game and lead the majors in miscues.
"I feel like we made a mistake, a couple of minor mistakes that cost us, but we were in the game," Williams said.
Trevor Rosenthal worked the ninth for his fifth save, but not without difficulty. Washington put runners on second and third with one out, and Kevin Frandsen drove in a run with a groundout before Rosenthal struck out Jayson Werth on three pitches.
Frandsen was batting in Harper's spot in the lineup.
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