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Using NLCS to gauge the Nats' pitching performance

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,MLB,Brian McNally

So was the Cardinals' offense that good or was the Nats' pitching that bad? An effective way to answer that question is to see how St. Louis fares against the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series.

So far it's been mixed reviews. The Cardinals won 6-4 in Game ?1 with a four-run fourth inning where -- shocker -- No. 8 hitter Pete Kozma had a key RBI double. David Freese also homered, as he and Carlos Beltran compete to see who can scare more pitchers in October. That outburst came against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, who was about on par with Nats starters Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg this season. Bumgarner didn't make it out of the fourth inning.

But St. Louis lost its magic against Ryan Vogelsong in Game?2, a 7-1 loss. Vogelsong was a Cy Young contender the first half of the year before fading late. The Cardinals' task presumably gets harder against Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79 ERA) on Wednesday in Game ?3. Yet St. Louis scored nine runs off Cain in two regular-season games. As always with these Cardinals' bats, no one is ever comfortable.

- Brian McNally

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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