THE RESULT: The St. Louis Cardinals hit four home runs, three against rookie Jordan Zimmermann, beating the Washington Nationals 6-2 before an announced bi-partisan crowd of 20,697 at Nationals Park.

The Nats are now 5-17 on the season.

Zimmermann, winner of his first two MLB games, was hit pretty hard in his third big league start. He went five and two-thirds, allowing five earned runs on five hits--but no walks. He threw 101 pitches, 71 for strikes.

It was the longball that did him in tonight. Albert Pujols (9) took a 3-1 pitch to straight-away left, five rows from the top of the bleachers. The other two home runs, from Chris Duncan and Ryan Ludwick, came on mistake pitches that the hitters turned around quickly.

Slap hitter Joe Thornton hit his first of the season off Logan Kensing, who replaced Zimmermann.

Saul Rivera and Joel Hanrahan both pitched scoreless innings for finish the game.

THE TAKEAWAY: Zimmermann made a couple mistakes and paid for them. He wasn't going to win every start this season, and there's no shame in giving up a homer to Albert Pujols, even on a good pitch.

It's apparent why Kensing was cast adrift by Florida now. He seems to have a good breaking ball, but his fastball is flat and he has trouble spotting it. He threw 23 pitches--only 14 strikes--in one and one-third innings.

Good to see Rivera and Hanrahan have good outings.

The other Zimmerman, Ryan, extended his hitting streak to 20 games, going 2-for-4. Willie Harris hit his first home run, a two-run shot in the seventh inning.

THE GOOD: Jesus Flores. He went 2-for-4, with his second triple on consecutive night. He also scored ahead of Harris' home run. He's hitting .294 for the season.

THE BAD: Cristian Guzman. He went 0-for-4, and in three days he's lowered his batting average from .515 to .383. Ah, the vagaries of the early season.

THE UGLY: Alex Cintron. Called on by manager Manny Acta once again to pinch-hit, he failed once again. He struck out in his only at bat, and is now 0-for-13 with six strikeouts for the season.

NEXT GAME: Another Saturday matinee! Game time it 1:05 p.m. Shairon Martis (2-0, 6.20) hosts Joel Pineiro (4-0, 3.76).

Photos 2009 © Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.