Jackson fans 10, Harper homers as Nats beat Cards

WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper hit his third home run in two games, Jayson Werth homered for the first time since May, and Edwin Jackson struck out 10 Thursday night as the Washington Nationals padded their N.L. East lead with an 8-1 win over the punchless St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nationals opened an 11-game homestand with an overwhelming performance against a wild-card contender that failed to score an earned run for the third straight game.

Jackson (8-9) was so dominant over eight innings that three of his strikeouts required throws to first because the Cardinals were chasing balls in the dirt.

The victory moved the Nationals 51⁄2 games ahead of the idle Atlanta Braves. Washington’s recent five-game losing streak has tightened the race again, but manager Davey Johnson’s team has come out of the funk with 16 runs in two games.

Jaime Garcia (3-6) allowed six runs over 51⁄3 innings.

The Cardinals’ streak of 28 scoreless innings came to an end when Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman launched a throw well over the first baseman’s head in the eighth inning, allowing a runner to score from second on the error.

St. Louis now has a half-game lead in the race for the NL’s second wild-card spot. Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal left in the sixth inning after straining his right elbow while making a throw to second.

A day after his first two-homer game, Harper hit a drive so hard that it short-hopped the back wall of the Nationals bullpen and bounced all the way back over the right-field fence. It was a two-run shot in the first inning, and the teenager followed.

The Cardinals, shut out in back-to-back games by Pittsburgh before arriving in Washington, got on the board when Bryan Anderson led off the eighth with a double and came home on Zimmerman’s error.

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