|Cards, Nats meet again in game plenty of teams watching|
The first-place St. Louis Cardinals are trying to hold off the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. The Washington Nationals are trying to fend off those same teams in the tightening wild-card race.
So the stakes will remain high when the Cardinals (84-66) host the Nationals (82-67) in the second game of their three-game series at Busch Stadium on Tuesday.
The Cardinals won the first game 4-2 Monday night. They lead the Cubs (82-68) by two games and the Brewers (81-69) by three in the Central.
The Nationals still hold the first wild-card slot, but they have lost nine of 15 games his month. The Cubs are just a half-game back of them in the second slot and the Brewers are a game behind Chicago.
Bench coach Chip Hale is guiding the Nationals on an interim basis while manager Dave Martinez recovers from a minor heart procedure. Martinez was hospitalized during Sunday's game in Washington, D.C., after experiencing chest pains.
"I spoke to him a couple hours ago, and he was upbeat and felt fine," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Monday afternoon. "He's going to be kept over there for some routine follow-up bloodwork and examination, and he'll be back with the team when he feels up to it. We have no other information. We have to wait until we get all the tests."
Tim Bogar is Hale's bench coach, and Joe Dillon is coaching first base in Bogar's place. Martinez felt well enough Monday to text the starting lineup to Hale.
"The players we have are what we have," Hale told reporters Monday afternoon. "You can't create anybody new here or change it. So the way Davey's been running the game is pretty much how I've run games before. And the situations will dictate how we make moves, whether it's pitchers vs. hitters, or hitters vs. their pitchers. So we'll just do the best we can.
"We know what Davey wants, and we know what the players can do and who's healthy and who's feeling the best at this point in September. Guys are pushing as best as they can."
Nationals left-handed starter Patrick Corbin (12-7, 3.20 ERA) hopes to do better than his previous start against the Cardinals, when he lost 6-5 on April 29. He allowed all six runs in five innings, suffering his first loss of the season.
Corbin is 1-2 with a 4.89 ERA in six career starts against the Cardinals.
But he has pitched well lately, allowing 12 earned runs while striking out 49 batters in 44 innings in his last seven starts.
The Cardinals will start righty Miles Mikolas (9-13, 4.28), who beat the Nationals 5-1 on May 1. He allowed that one run in a strong six-inning performance.
Mikolas is 2-1 with a 4.95 ERA in four career appearances against the Nationals, including three starts.
He has pitched better at home this season, posting a 2.91 ERA with his 5-5 mark. In his last four starts overall, he allowed eight runs in 22 innings.
Cardinals reliever Carlos Martinez returned to active duty after a brief hospitalization for respiratory issues and earned his 20th save Monday night. He bolsters a bullpen that collapsed Sunday in a 7-6 loss to the Brewers.
"It was asthma and allergies I got in Colorado, so that combination was really bad for me," Martinez told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It was the first time I've gone through something like this. Last year I had something similar, but nothing like this."
--Field Level Media