Loss in St. Louis allowed rare rest for Nationals

Loss in St. Louis allowed rare rest for Nationals

ST. LOUIS -- The Nationals were planning to rest their everyday players once they clinched the National League East, but Friday night's blowout loss provided another unexpected opportunity.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson removed all of his starters, save Danny Espinosa, at various points throughout the game, nearly emptying his bench in Washington's 12-2 loss to the Cardinals. Johnson admitted afterward that his players didn't really need the time off their feet quite yet, "but we'll call that a rest day."

"You hope you don't get 'em. If you do, you hope it's a blowout in the other direction," first baseman Adam LaRoche said Friday night. "You don't ever want to be down that much, where he's pulling everybody out. This time of year, I think giving guys a blow, if nothing less, a little mental break for a few innings to kind of hang out, so I don't have a problem with it."

While Johnson planned to rest his everyday players only after clinching the division title, the tight race with the Braves has left the Nationals with only a few games remaining to do that. With that in mind, Johnson said he would have taken out Espinosa as well, but someone had to play shortstop -- and the infielder is usually averse to leaving a game.

"He doesn't like to come out," Johnson said. "A lot of the guys I took out didn't want to come out."