ATL@WSH: Desmond makes a nice diving catch

WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond made just 15 errors in 128 games during the 2012 season. But he's battled several defensive problems in the first month of 2013.

Desmond had already committed seven errors in 15 games entering play Monday, but he's just trying to move on and not let the problems wear him down.

"It's just like anything else," Desmond said. "In baseball, it happens. You go into slumps. You go through it. It's part of the game. You've got to push through and keep on grinding. You just keep on playing. Eventually it's going to get better."

Desmond said he just can't rely on the numbers from the past, because it's a new season.

He also said he's not exactly sure what's causing the early problems. Instead, he plans on continuing to battle.

"I could rest my hat on what I did last year, but that's not the case," Desmond said. "Every year is a new year. Sometimes you make an error. I've got a few more than I'd like right now, but it's a long year."

Nationals manager Davey Johnson was a very good second baseman during his playing days, and also isn't worried about his starting shortstop.

"It's early [and] errors can happen at any time," Johnson said. "He gets to a lot of balls. He's very aggressive. I'm not worried about it at all. Sometimes, when it rains, it pours. I don't put much stock in it. It's just part of baseball. He may go 60 games without making an error. That's the nature of this beast."

Rendon tallies first hit, RBI in home debut

STL@WSH: Rendon's first MLB hit good for RBI double

WASHINGTON -- Top prospect Anthony Rendon made his home debut for the Nationals on Monday night, and in his second at-bat against the Cardinals, he tied the game at 2 with an RBI double, the first hit and RBI of his big league career.

The 22-year-old rookie said he'll always remember that first hit. He already had the baseball, which was sitting on a shelf in his locker.

"It's the one thing you're going to treasure the rest of your life," Rendon said of that first hit. "You don't get another one."

Rendon, the club's No. 1 prospect, made his Major League debut in Sunday's 2-0 loss against the Mets In New York. The third baseman went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in place of injured third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (left hamstring strain).

Rendon said he's trying to stay relaxed, as it's just baseball at a different level with more people watching the game. Rendon said the fact that he'll play on a regular basis also is going to help.

"It's a good feeling … knowing that you're going to be in the lineup," Rendon said before Monday's batting practice. "Being in there every day kind of helps. The bases are still 90 feet, the fences are relatively the same size. It's still the same game. You try not to take it out of context too much. It's the same game. You've just got to slow it down."

Rendon's family made it to Washington for his second Major League game after travel problems kept them away from New York on Sunday.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson is looking forward to seeing what Rendon can do in this brief test, but the skipper also made it very clear that the rookie won't be battling Zimmerman for his job.

"I don't care if he hits .900, he's not going to beat out Ryan Zimmerman -- he's our third baseman," Johnson said. "What [Rendon] needs more than anything is just playing time. He hasn't really had a full season, professionally. He just needs to get some games under his belt."

Soriano on paternity leave for series opener

WSH@NYM: Soriano gets the final out to record a save

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals were without closer Rafael Soriano on Monday night as his wife just had a baby boy.

Manager Davey Johnson said Soriano is likely out for just one game. Former closer Drew Storen would take the job, if needed.

"[Soriano] will be back tomorrow," Johnson said.

It would be interesting for Storen to close versus the Cardinals after what happened when the right-hander last pitched versus St. Louis in Washington -- in Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series.

The Nationals blew a 7-5 lead in the top of the ninth as Storen gave up four runs to allow the Cardinals to take a dramatic 9-7 victory in the series finale.

But Johnson said it would be good for Storen to face the Cardinals once more in the ninth after what happened last fall.

Davey, Storen don't see NLDS comparisons

WASHINGTON -- If the Nationals were trying to avoid reminders of their loss to the Cardinals in Game 5 of last year's National League Division Series, circumstances dictated otherwise when the teams met for the first time this season on Monday night.

Twice in the game, Washington faced situations involving Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, a thorn in its side during St. Louis' 9-7 comeback win last Oct. 12.

In that series-deciding contest, Kozma stepped in against Nationals closer Drew Storen in the ninth inning, with the scored tied 7-7, runners on first and third and one out. Even after Daniel Descalso stole second, and with Cardinals closer Jason Motte on deck, Nationals manager Davey Johnson elected to have Storen pitch to Kozma, who lined the go-ahead two-run single to right field.

Fast forward to Monday's sixth inning. The Cardinals had scored to take a 3-2 lead and had runners on second and third with two outs when Kozma came to the plate against reliever Craig Stammen. Again, a pitcher was on deck, this time starter Shelby Miller.

Johnson admitted that the parallels "did flash before my mind," at the time, although the exact circumstances were not identical. In this instance, he ordered the intentional walk to load the bases, and Stammen struck out Miller to end the frame.

"It was a little different situation there," Johnson said.

Kozma's next at-bat came leading off the ninth inning against Storen, with the score still 3-2. Storen struck him out on four pitches, catching him looking on a slider, and retired the side in order. He said he was not thinking about his previous encounter with Kozma.

"The guy's getting up there anyways, and I want to strike him out regardless of who it is, what situation it is," Storen said. "Not crossing my mind. If it was, like I said before, I shouldn't be out there."

Worth noting

• Johnson said catcher Wilson Ramos (left hamstring strain) will be headed to Viera, Fla., to get some rehab at-bats and make sure everything's all right. Ramos has been on the disabled list since April 14. The skipper said all reports are "real good. He's doing OK."

• Entering play Monday, outfielder Bryce Harper's seven homers in April had tied Alfonso Soriano's club record for homers in the month. 

• The Nationals entered Monday on a roll when it comes to getting hits with runners in scoring position. They had a .354 average with runners in scoring position going back to April 9.