As was the case throughout the regular season, Mitchell Boggs was Matheny's go-to guy in the eighth. Boggs worked around a two-out walk to get through it without trouble. The ninth-inning decision, however, wasn't so clear cut.
Closer Jason Motte had warmed during the top half of the ninth inning. So, too, had Lance Lynn, who had gotten loose twice earlier in the game as well. Wanting to save his closer for a potential save situation in extra innings, Matheny sat Motte down and called on Lynn.
The only stirring Motte did the rest of the night was getting up to exit the Nationals Park bullpen. Jayson Werth greeted Lynn with a leadoff home run to send the Nationals to a 2-1 victory.
"If we were at home, it would have been a very easy decision to bring in Motte," Matheny explained afterward. "We are looking at a team that had every save of our season by Jason Motte, and we take a lead there at any point, you're asking one of our guys -- especially one of our young guys, who have never been in that situation -- to come in and close out a game, and that's a lot to ask.
"But [I] had a lot of confidence in Lance. He came in throwing the ball well. Werth just put together a very good at-bat."
The Cardinals' bullpen has coughed up a lead and also been unable to preserve one in this even best-of-five National League Division Series. That's why Washington remains just as alive as the Cards, even though St. Louis starters have limited the Nats to only three runs in 20 1/3 innings. That includes the two-inning Game 2 start Jaime Garcia made with an ailing shoulder.
As steady as the Cardinals' late-inning relief was for much of the regular season, this has certainly not been a club immune from bullpen troubles. The team entered the postseason having gone 5-12 in games tied after the seventh and 4-10 in ones even after eight. Final at-bat decisions tipped 19-12 in favor of opponents.
The club is plenty confident turning a lead over to Motte, but a save situation has yet to present itself since Friday's Wild Card game against Atlanta.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.