Cardinals blow lead three times, lose to Nationals 7-6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Josh Bell hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning and the Washington Nationals rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6 on Saturday night.

Bell, likely on his way out as the Major League Baseball trade deadline nears, gave the home fans possibly one final moment to celebrate his time with the club after his 14th homer of the season just cleared the wall in right-center off Génesis Cabrera (3-2).

Bell, who turns 30 next month and will be a free agent after the season, is having one of his best seasons and leads the Nationals with 57 RBIs and is batting .305 in 101 games.

Juan Soto, who could be the biggest name dealt before next week’s deadline, finished 1 for 1 with three walks and scored twice for Washington, which has the worst record in baseball.

Erasmo Ramírez (3-1) earned the win with a clean seventh, and Kyle Finnegan got the last five outs for his fourth save of the season.

St. Louis, which started the day even with Philadelphia for the last wild card spot in the NL, took the lead in the fifth for the second time when Paul DeJong hit a two-run homer into the Cardinals’ bullpen.

Gone for over two months, DeJong — an All-Star in 2019 — was recalled earlier on Saturday after the Cardinals traded infielder Edmundo Sosa to the Phillies in exchange for left-hander JoJo Romero. St. Louis made room for DeJong from the taxi squad by sending Romero to Triple-A Memphis.

DeJong was optioned to the minors back on May 10 after struggling to hit .130 with one homer through 24 games. The 28-year-old since regained his form in Memphis by hitting 17 homers and driving in 54 RBIs in 51 games at the lower level. He had homered in three straight games before Saturday’s promotion.

The Nationals scored three in the fifth — all with two-outs — to tie the score at 4-4. Nelson Cruz hit a two-run RBI double before Yadiel Hernandez RBI single up the middle.

Lars Nootbaar gave St. Louis their final lead with a sacrifice fly in the sixth before Bell’s go-ahead blast.

Nolan Arenado hit his 19th homer of the season in the second. It was his first since July 13.

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(Photo Credit: Nick Wass – freelancer, FR67404 AP)

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