Ross sharp, Zimmerman homers as Nationals blank Cardinals

Joe Ross pitched six sharp innings and the Washington Nationals threw their first regular-season shutout at Busch Stadium, blanking the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0

ST. LOUIS -- Joe Ross pitched six sharp innings and the Washington Nationals threw their first regular-season shutout at Busch Stadium, blanking the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 Wednesday.

Ross (1-0) improved to 3-0 in four career starts against the Cardinals. He allowed four hits, struck out five and walked one. He also singled and scored a run.

“Kid didn’t pitch all last year and he looked awesome today," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.

“It feels good. Coming back and having a good start to the season is good,” Ross said. “I would say today the slider and sinker were especially good. Once I found a groove, I stuck with it.”

Martinez liked what he saw.

“When he throws strikes he’s going to be good and he was pounding the strike zone today,” he said. “He’s worked diligently all spring to make sure his mechanics are good."

Four relievers combined to hold St. Louis hitless the rest of the way.

The Nationals, who started play in Washington in 2005, had pitched a shutout at St. Louis in the 2019 NL Championship Series opener, but never in the regular season.

Ryan Zimmerman hit his first homer of the season, a two-run drive in the third off Adam Wainwright (0-2). Zimmerman's 271st career home run hit the top of the wall and bounced into the left-center fielder bleacher seats.

“I think the biggest thing with Adam is you can’t do too much,” Zimmerman said. “He’s not going to throw it over the plate. You have to make him throw strikes. You have to be patient. I just reacted to that fastball. I love facing a guy like Waino. I have nothing but respect for him. He’s done this for a long time. ”

Juan Soto reached on an infield single before Zimmerman connected.

The Nationals added two runs in the fifth for a 4-0 lead. Soto hit a sinking line drive to center field that Lane Thomas failed to catch for an error, allowing one run to score. Josh Harrison’s second single of the game drove in Soto.

Washington touched reliever Jordan Hicks for a run in the sixth. Ross led off with a single and Hicks walked two, loading the bases. Ross scored on Soto's grounder.

“Morale in the dugout was up. It gave me more confidence going out there,” Ross said. “I think everybody kind of built off each other.”

The Nationals final run came in the eighth on a double by Trea Turner with two outs off Giovanny Gallegos.

The shutout came less than 24 hours after the Cardinals scored 14 runs in a 14-3 win Tuesday.

“Ross was pinpoint. Pretty much every pitch he threw was a strike,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “He made high quality big league pitches. You tip your hat. That was the story today.”

Wainwright pitched five innings, allowing seven hits and four runs — three earned — with seven strikeouts and two walks. At 39 and in his 16th season, Wainwright is the oldest active player in the National League and fourth in Major League Baseball.

“I had great stuff today. They battled and fought off a lot of pitches," Wainwright said. "They worked me today. They have a lot of quality professional hitters over there.”

MOLINA MILESTONE

Yadier Molina caught his 2,000th game. Molina became just the sixth catcher in MLB history to catch 2,000 career games, and the only backstop to do so exclusively with one team. After he caught the first pitch, Wainwright stepped off the mound and the fans gave Molina standing ovation. He took off his mask and waved to the fans with his glove hand. A “Yadi” chant broke out. Molina caught his first game June 3, 2004, in Pittsburgh. Woody Williams was the pitcher. “It was a neat moment, a great moment for me,” Molina said. “I wish we could have had a different result.”

DAY OFF

Cardinals SS Paul DeJong and CF Dylan Carlson get their first break from starting this season by getting the game off. Edmundo Sosa played short and Thomas patrolled center field. Carlson pinch-hit in the seventh and drew a walk.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: Will Harris (hand) has missed 10 games.

Cardinals: LF Tyler O’Neill (right groin) has missed four games.

UP NEXT

Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (0-1, 12.46) starts at home Thursday against Diamondbacks’ Merrill Kelly (0-2, 8.10).

Cardinals: After an off day Thursday, RHP Carlos Martinez (0-2, 6.30) will be making his first start against the Phillies since June 22, 2017, and just his second career start at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. The Phillies starter is TBD.

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