Early Saturday evening, the ferocity of the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen forced Jayson Werth to reconsider the complexion of building a pitching staff. Ever since the Washington Nationals succumbed to them in the 2012 playoffs, Werth had been awed by how many flame-throwers the Cardinals possessed.

“I don’t remember the last time I faced two guys throwing 99,” Werth said. “That’s kind of the way the game’s going these days. It seems like everybody’s bringing up kids that throw hard, putting them in the back of the [bull]pen.”

Faced with a customary deficit Sunday afternoon, the Nationals forced a series split when they clawed back against the mighty backend of the Cardinals’ bullpen, a 3-2 comeback victory that Denard Span completed with a walk-off sacrifice fly against Seth Maness that scored Danny Espinosa.

The Nationals set up the dogpile on Span with two runs in the seventh off hard-throwing Carlos Martinez, salvaging Stephen Strasburg’s six-inning, two-run, nine-strikeout start and giving meaning to a dominant relief performance of their own.

Espinosa sparked the Nationals’ game-winning rally with a single through third baseman Matt Carpenter’s legs, his third hit of the day and fourth time on base. Jose Lobaton rolled a single through the right side, which sent Espinosa to third, 90 feet away from winning the game with one out.

Manager Matt Williams tabbed McLouth, 2 for 27 on the year, as his pinch hitter. McLouth spit on Maness’s 3-2 pitch just off the outside corner. Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny called in left fielder Allen Craig to form a five-man infield against Span.

Span stayed alive when he nicked a 1-2 change-up off his foot. Three pitches later, after he fouled another pitch and took a close one over the inside corner, Span lofted a ball over all five infielders to left. Jon Jay caught the ball, spun and had no chance.