WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington's Ian Desmond took a substantial lead off third base in the seventh inning of a tie game, wondering whether St. Louis pitcher Michael Wacha might leave a changeup in the dirt.
"I was just kind of anticipating," Desmond explained later.
Sure enough, Wacha threw a wild pitch that bounced away from catcher Yadier Molina, who compounded the problem with a throwing error as Desmond charged home, leading to a second unearned run on the play. That was enough to propel Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals to a 3-1 victory Friday night, ending their eight-game losing streak against the Cardinals.
"I saw it bounce off a little bit. I said, 'We've got to take a chance here,'" Desmond said. "And fortunately for us, it worked out."
Said Nationals manager Matt Williams: "You never see a ball get away from Yadi. Ever."
That's because Molina has won six consecutive NL Gold Glove awards. But his miscue fit, somehow, with this series so far. A night after the Nationals made three errors — they initially were charged with four, but one was changed to a hit Friday — in an 8-0 loss, it was the Cardinals' turn to be sloppy.
St. Louis finished with three errors, two coming in the pivotal seventh inning.
A pair of singles and an error by third baseman Matt Carpenter — who dropped Wacha's throw of Danny Espinosa's bunt — loaded the bases with no outs.
"I stretched before I saw where it was going and ended up missing it. It was a good throw. I should have caught it," Carpenter said. "But it tipped off my glove and ended up being the difference in the game."
Wacha struck out Nate McLouth and got Jose Lobaton to hit a roller that led to a forceout at home. But with pinch hitter Zach Walters up, Wacha's pitch darted to his catcher's right.
"Just spiked a changeup," Wacha said.
Molina tried to make an underhand toss to Wacha, but the throw — which did not appear in time to beat Desmond, anyway — was off-target. It went into the Cardinals' dugout, allowing Espinosa to score, too.
"I'm just trying to make a play," Molina said. "I threw it away. My fault."
Desmond shouted and punched the air, a 1-1 game suddenly 3-1.