Game in a nutshell: Stephen Strasburg started the game strong with six shutout innings, but a rocky seventh by Sean Burnett let the Cardinals back in the game. The Nats were able to respond in the next inning with a two-run rally and take the lead. Kurt Suzuki had a big day with a solo home run in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa batted in the seventh inning runs to get the Nats ahead for good. The Cardinals scored a run in the 8th on a Tony Cruz double, but Mattheus got out of the eighth and Tyler Clippard held on in the ninth for the win. It was the 81st win of the season for the Nats which ties their most in a season since moving to Washington, D.C.
Hitting highlight: Suzuki had an all-around great day at the plate and in the field. His fourth inning homer was a crisp line drive that landed in the first row of seats in left field. He then batted home Desmond in the sixth on a single, accounting for each of the Nats first two runs. He also made a nice defensive play earlier in the fourth on a throw home by Bryce Harper. Harpers throw was well in time, but Suzuki needed to step away from the plate for the scoop and make a nice turn to spot the tag.
Pitching highlight: Strasburg had a few long innings due to mistakes by the defense behind him, but throughout the game he was quite sharp. He went six innings and struck out nine, allowed just two hits and one walk. It came after his worst start of the season in Miami and showed his resilience to bounce back. An eight-pitch third inning was huge for the Nats ace after 40 throws through the first two frames.
Key stat: Stephen Strasburg has 195 strikeouts on the season through 156.1 innings pitched. He wont get many more with just one or two starts left, but to hit the 200 mark as he likely will is remarkable in a shortened season.
Up next: The Chicago Cubs (51-81) come to town to face Ross Detwiler and the Nats. The Labor Day game starts at 1:05 p.m. and is the first of another four-game series.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history.
Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him.
During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.
In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons.
Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store
Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract.
On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop.
It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series.
Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster.
Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.
The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda.
There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.
MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others