Nats crush Cards, close in on NLCS sweep

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    WASHINGTON DC. — Howie Kendrick drove in three runs, and Stephen Strasburg gave the Washington Nationals yet another strong pitching performance Monday in an 8-1 National League Championship Series victory over the visiting St. Louis Cardinals that moved the franchise one victory away from its first World Series appearance.

    In the first home NLCS game in Nationals history, Strasburg (1-0) struck out 12 while giving up an unearned run over seven innings of Game 3. He now has a 1.10 ERA over seven career playoff appearances, four of which have come in this postseason.

    Nats starters Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Strasburg have not given up an earned run in 21 2/3 innings of the NLCS while pitching Washington to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven set.

    The Cardinals have scored just two runs in the series, which would end Tuesday if Washington can win at home again.

    “We have to play with the lead,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We have to get the lead at some point in this series. In order to win a game, you have to get a lead, so we have to figure out a way to create some offense early in the game and hold it there.”

    In Houston, Carlos Correa slugged a walk-off home run on the first pitch of the bottom of the 11th inning and the Houston Astros evened the American League Championship Series with a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.