Game in a nutshell: It's not supposed to be this easy, right? Especially against the defending World Series champs, who had been playing as well as anybody in baseball until this week. Well, the Nationals have taken the Cardinals to the woodshed two nights in a row now, following up Thursday's 8-1 thumping with tonight's rout. This one was all the more impressive because much of the damage came against former 20-game winner Adam Wainwright, who was knocked out after giving up six runs in only 2 23 innings. The Nationals worked the count against the right-hander, forcing him to throw a whopping 86 pitches, and got contributions from just about everyone in their lineup. That freed up Gio Gonzalez to go right after St. Louis' hitters, which the lefty did. Gonzalez didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning and he carried a shutout into the ninth, given a standing ovation as he took the mound in search of the complete game. He pulled it off, earning his first career shutout, energizing the crowd of 29,499 and sending the Nationals to their 80th win of the season (matching last year's total) and only one shy of the club record set in 2005.
Hitting highlight: It seems like we're highlighting Jayson Werth here on an almost-nightly basis, but it's impossible to ignore what the guy is doing right now. He racked up three more hits and two more walks tonight, scoring a pair of runs. Put it all together, and Werth has now reached safely in 12 of his last 15 plate appearances. He's truly embraced the leadoff role and understands the most important thing he can do is get himself on base. And he's doing that with aplomb, setting the table for Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and everyone else behind in in the lineup. Werth's updated on-base percentage in 26 games since he returned from his broken wrist: .435. What a difference he's made.
Pitching highlight: Maybe Gonzalez just wanted to one-up Edwin Jackson. One night after the veteran right-hander tossed eight innings of one-run ball, the lefty went out and carried a shutout into the ninth. Gonzalez retired the first nine batters he faced, took a no-hitter into the fifth and got some big, double-play grounders when he needed them. Put it all together and you've got one of his best outings of the year, this one good enough to earn Gonzalez his 17th win of the season. That ties him with Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto for the major-league lead and gives Gio a real shot at 20 wins by season's end.
Key stat: Since their five-game losing streak, the Nationals have outscored the opposition 26-5.
Up next: Note the changed starting time for Saturday's game -- 4:05 p.m. because Fox picked up the broadcast -- then make sure you get here on-time to see Jordan Zimmermann seek his 10th win against 14-game winner Kyle Lohse.