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Nationals take 2-0 lead in NLCS with 3-1 win over Cardinals

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Backed by six no-hit innings from Max Scherzer and several well-placed hits from Michael Taylor and Adam Eaton, the Nationals defeated the Cardinals 3-1 during Game 2 of the NLCS. With the win, Washington advanced to a two-game lead in the series, with just two more wins needed to qualify for the World Series.

Max Scherzer started the game strong with six hitless innings, allowing just two walks and striking out 10 of the first 20 batters he faced. According to Elias Sports and MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, he became the first pitcher to register five separate no-hit attempts of 5+ innings in the postseason. He lost the attempt in the top of the seventh, however, as Paul Goldschmidt picked up a slider and returned it to left field for the Cardinals’ first hit of the afternoon.

Despite losing a second consecutive no-hit attempt, the Nationals managed to stay one step ahead of the Cardinals. Michael A. Taylor belted a first-pitch, leadoff home run off of Adam Wainwright in the third for an early lead, and Adam Eaton supplied a two-run double in the eighth to give the club some extra support. That came in handy as José Martínez caused some trouble for Sean Doolittle in the bottom of the inning, delivering a two-out, two-run double to snap the Cardinals’ scoreless streak and bring them within a couple runs of tying the game.

They didn’t quite get there in the end. Patrick Corbin and Daniel Hudson worked in tandem to retire the side in the ninth and capture the Nationals’ second straight win of the series. Per MLB Stats, the win cemented the Nationals’ status as the first NL team to give up three or fewer hits in back-to-back postseason games since the Reds held the Giants to five collective hits in Games 2 and 3 of the 2012 NLDS.

The tide could still shift in the Cardinals’ favor on Monday night, when the series will move to Nationals Park for Games 3 and 4 (and a potential Game 5, if the Cardinals can avoid a sweep). They’ll send right-hander Jack Flaherty up against fellow righty Stephen Strasburg at 7:38 PM EDT.

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.