The Nationals starting pitchers desperately need to go longer than five innings if they want to avoid being eliminated from the playoffs.
Gio Gonzalez went five, Jordan Zimmermann managed to go just three, and Edwin Jackson stumbled along through five innings of work.
However, Jackson had a much better start than Gonzalez and Zimmermann, but the early lead put on by the Cardinals hitters did not make his start very glamorous. He surrendered eight hits, struck out four batters and allowed four runs, all earned.
But giving up the three-run homer to Pete Kozma in the top of the second inning didn't help the Nationals one bit, as that was just the beginning of their worries.
It also didn't help Jackson having half of his pitches be sliders and the other half of his pitches be four-seam fastballs. So giving up eight hits in five innings makes sense when you're giving your opponent a 50/50 chance of what pitch to hit.
That is what worked for St. Louis starting pitcher Chris Carpenter on Wednesday. He mixed all of his pitches thrown very evenly and in timely counts as well. The 37-year-old vet didn't need to gas anybody up, as he predominantly threw his sinker and cutter for strikes at varying speeds.
That is why he is now 10-2 in postseason play after this afternoon's game.
Nonetheless, in order for the Nationals to tie the series at two games apiece Thursday, they'll need a consistent, dominating outing from their starting pitcher. It doesn't have to be someone who needs to strike every Cardinal batter out, but it needs to be someone who won't be pulled before or by the fifth inning. Someone who can manage to go at least seven innings of work on the hill. Someone who can get the job done.