Wacha, Mejia help Cardinals outlast Nationals
ST. LOUIS -- Michael Wacha fanned a season-high nine over six shutout innings Saturday night and rookie Alex Mejia blasted his first career home run as the St. Louis Cardinals edged the Washington Nationals 2-1 at Busch Stadium.
Wacha (5-3) allowed four hits and walked one in a 94-pitch outing, notching his second straight win after a stretch in which he didn't complete the fifth inning in five of six starts.
Mejia knocked in both runs, giving St. Louis (39-41) much-needed cushion when he whacked Sammy Solis' first pitch 390 feet into the left field seats to start the bottom of the eighth inning. The crowd of 43,614 demanded and received a curtain call.
Five relievers protected the lead Wacha left them, with Matt Bowman earning his first big league save by fanning Adrian Sanchez. The 3-2 fastball appeared to be off the outside corner, but plate umpire Manny Gonzalez rung up Sanchez, batting for the first time in the majors.
Bowman replaced Trevor Rosenthal, who allowed a two-out RBI single to Stephen Drew and walked Jose Lobaton -- batting .135 -- to load the bases with two outs.
Gio Gonzalez (7-3) was a hard-luck loser again. For the second straight outing, he gave up two hits and a run without getting a win or even a no-decision. Gonzalez whiffed nine and walked two in his 113-pitch outing, mowing down the last 11 men he faced.
It was the third straight loss for the Nationals (47-34), who have scored two runs in the series.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny picked up his 500th career win, becoming the second-fastest active manager to reach that milestone.
St. Louis initiated the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. Mejia's first big league hit, a two-out single up the middle on a full-count pitch with the runners going, easily scored Luke Voit.
Gonzalez, who entered the game with a 2.51 ERA against the Cardinals, otherwise kept them muted.
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was even better with arguably the best stuff he's exhibited all season.
NOTES: Washington on Saturday designated RHP Jacob Turner for assignment and activated LHP Sammy Solis (left elbow inflammation) from the 60-day DL. Turner was 2-3 with a 5.08 ERA in 18 appearances for the Nationals, 16 of them as a reliever. ... St. Louis 1B Matt Carpenter didn't start for only the eighth time in 80 games Saturday night, with rookie Luke Voit getting his second career start at 1B. ... Cardinals LHP Kevin Siegrist (cervical spine strain) threw a bullpen session Saturday, the first time he's thrown off a mound since going on the 10-day DL Sunday. Siegrist could return before the All-Star break.