Bolstered by Monday’s return of three everyday players, the Nationals finally looked like the team that left Spring Training with championship aspirations.
Juan Soto did his usual Juan Soto things, picking up three hits and a walk while driving in the Nationals’ first run. But it was Soto’s new teammates who backed him up following his leadoff single in the sixth with the game tied at 1, displaying the damage this group can do when healthy.
Bell walked and Schwarber doubled, plating Soto for the go-ahead run. Bell came around to score on Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly, giving the Nats a lead they would never relinquish thanks to a steady flow of insurance runs in the succeeding innings.
Erick Fedde granted manager Dave Martinez’s pregame wish by getting ahead of nearly every hitter he faced, throwing first-pitch strikes to 15 of the 18 batters he faced. He limited the Cardinals to just one run during his 4 2/3 innings, though a pair of one-out walks kept him from completing the fifth.