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Nationals ready to resume rivalry with Cards

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WASHINGTON -- If you include Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series and last year's regular season, the Nationals have now lost eight straight games to the Cardinals following Thursday's 8-0 defeat in the opener of a four-game series.

Is it safe to a say the Cardinals have their number? The answer is no, according to Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche.

"My question is, how many games have we lost to St. Louis this year? It's a new year, we turn the page. We are 0-0 against St. Louis. We have haven't played them yet," LaRoche said prior to Thursday's contest at Nationals Park. "We have experienced some things with St. Louis that don't sit well with us."

The worst loss to St. Louis was arguably Game 5 of the NLDS on Oct. 12, 2012. The Nationals had a 6-0 lead and lost, 9-7. The game ended Washington's postseason run.

"I look back at a lot of those games and we beat ourselves," LaRoche said. "I think comparatively, we are right there with them and I would think they would say the same thing. If you want to look back, they have our number a little bit, but we are 0-0 [this year]."

Nationals manager Matt Williams gave the Cardinals credit for playing the game the right way. Entering Thursday's action, the Cardinals were 9-6 -- two games behind the Brewers in the National League Central standings.

"It starts with their rotation," Williams said about the Cardinals. "They have one of the best catchers [Yadier Molina] in the league and he runs a great game -- both offensively and defensively. They have power, they have some speed, they play exceptional defense. All of that combined is the reason they are at where they are at. Do we measure ourselves? I guess, yes, but ultimately we have to worry about ourselves and play the game the way we want to play it in order to have a chance to beat them."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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