Anibal Sanchez carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning, Howie Kendrick had two more big swings and the Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 on Friday night in the NL Championship Series opener.
Sanchez had allowed just three runners when he took the mound for the eighth. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman robbed Tommy Edman with an outstanding diving grab at full stretch for the first out, but pinch-hitter Jose Martinez cleanly singled to centre with two down for the Cardinals’ first hit.
Sean Doolittle relieved and got four straight outs to finish the one-hitter for his first post-season save in two years.
Sanchez and Doolittle made life easy on manager Dave Martinez after the Nationals placed closer Daniel Hudson on the paternity list before the franchise’s first appearance in the NLCS since the Montreal Expos moved to Washington ahead of the 2005 season.
Game 2 is back at Busch Stadium on Saturday. Washington ace Max Scherzer starts in his hometown, and Adam Wainwright gets the ball for St. Louis.
St. Louis wasted a solid performance by Miles Mikolas, who pitched six innings of one-run ball in his second career playoff start.