ST. LOUIS — Max Scherzer was strength and fire. Anibal Sanchez was artistry and deception.

Two different styles, two absolute gems for the Washington Nationals.

Scherzer followed Sanchez’s near no-hitter with a try of his own, and the stingy Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 on Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

“We really want to win here,” Scherzer said. “So that’s what’s going to happen, we’re going to compete and win.”

Scherzer didn’t allow a hit until Paul Goldschmidt led off the seventh inning with a single that left fielder Juan Soto played conservatively with a 1-0 lead. A day earlier, Sanchez held the Cardinals hitless until Jose Martinez had a pinch single with two down in the eighth.

Sanchez and Scherzer also began the 2013 ALCS with consecutive no-hit bids of at least five innings for Detroit against Boston. They are the only pitchers to accomplish the feat in postseason history.

“The way he can change speeds and execute pitches, it’s a treat to really watch and get to pitch with him,” Scherzer said. “For me, I’m just in the moment.”

Scherzer struck out 11 and walked two in seven innings.

It doesn’t get any easier for St. Louis, either. Stephen Strasburg gets the ball for the wild-card Nationals when the best-of-seven series moves to Washington for Game 3 on Monday night. Jack Flaherty pitches for the Cards.

St. Louis got another solid performance from Adam Wainwright, who struck out 11 in 7 ⅓ innings.

But after getting only one hit in the opener, the Cardinals’ inconsistent lineup managed just three hits against Scherzer and the Washington bullpen.

Jay Cohen is an Associated Press writer.