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National

Cardinals blank Nationals

– So Adam Wainwright finally walked a batter. Knew he would, of course.

It was one of the few blemishes for the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Tuesday night.

After starting the season by throwing 34 2/3 innings without issuing a free pass, Wainwright walked Washington’s Bryce Harper to load the bases in the sixth, then followed up by striking out cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche to get out of the jam. Wainwright extended his sterling start to 2013 – and Washington’s mediocre one – by coming within two outs of his second shutout, leading the Cardinals past the Nationals 2-0.

“I wasn’t going to go the whole season without walking somebody,” Wainwright said. “I wanted the game to dictate when that was OK to do, and right there I felt like pitching him tough – even though I’m loading the bases for a tough hitter, LaRoche – Bryce Harper, he can hurt you in a lot of different ways.”

Wainwright (4-1) lowered his ERA to 1.93 by going 8 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only five hits and striking out nine, before Edward Mujica got the final two outs for his third save.

“I haven’t done that too many times, where I go out for the ninth and don’t finish it,” Wainwright said.

Jayson Werth, LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa – Washington’s 2-4-5-6-7 hitters – went a combined 0 for 18.

Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran drove in runs in the fourth off Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler (1-1), who gave up eight hits across six innings. Detwiler benefited from four double plays over the first five innings.

PIRATES 2, PHILLIES 0: In Philadelphia, Jeff Locke pitched six smooth innings of two-hit ball and Gaby Sanchez homered off Cole Hamels to lead Pittsburgh.

Locke (2-1) struck out six and walked two. After wriggling out of a jam in the fourth, he retired his last eight batters – striking out three of the final four.

BRAVES 4, ROCKIES 3: In Denver, starting a day-night doubleheader that opened with a 23-degree temperature, Justin Upton hit his major league-leading 10th home run and Dan Uggla and rookie Evan Gattis also connected for the Braves.

Colorado and Atlanta each began the day at 13-5, tied for the best record in the major leagues.

DODGERS 7, METS 2: In New York, Mark Ellis lined two home runs and hit a hard grounder that struck Mets starter Jonathon Niese in the lower right leg and sent him limping off for X-rays.

Ellis got four hits and drove in four runs. He hit his 100th career homer in the fifth inning, then connected for a tiebreaking, three-run shot with two outs in the seventh.

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