ST. LOUIS -- Jordan Zimmermann needed just 76 pitches to throw his second straight complete game for the Washington Nationals.
He made one big mistake, and Matt Adams drove it over the wall in centre to lead Lance Lynn and the St. Louis Cardinals to a 1-0 victory Friday night.
It was "a changeup that was down the middle," Zimmermann said. "He made me pay. It's tough, but tomorrow's another day."
Lynn threw eight innings of two-hit ball and Adams homered on his first swing since coming off the disabled list.
Zimmermann (5-3) threw a two-hit shutout at San Diego his last start and worked 19 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings before Adams hit his fourth homer on a 1-0 pitch with two outs in the second. He gave up three hits, two of them by Adams, in eight innings against St. Louis for his seventh career complete game and third in a loss.
Zimmermann's 76 pitches were the franchise's lowest total in a complete game since it relocated to Washington in 2005. The Nationals turned two double plays.
"I was throwing a lot of strikes and they were coming up hacking," Zimmermann said. "I was locating the fastball, got a lot of groundballs and had good defence behind me."
Just no offence.
"He was on and we were off," cleanup man Adam LaRoche said after going 0 for 3. "The majority of the time when I've seen Jordan, he's really had it."
Adams was activated from the 15-day disabled list from a strained left calf earlier Friday and rookie Oscar Taveras was optioned to Triple-A Memphis.
Lynn (7-4) struck out eight with no walks against the NL East leaders, who had won 10 of 13. Trevor Rosenthal added three more strikeouts in the ninth, working around rookie second baseman Kolten Wong's two-out error on Denard Span's routine grounder for his 18th save in 21 chances.
Zimmermann is 0-5 against the Cardinals and 0-2 against the Pirates, the only two NL teams he hasn't beaten.
The Cardinals have won 10 of the last 12 regular-season meetings, and beat the Nationals in the 2012 NL division series.
Lynn retired his first 16 batters. He got some help from his defence when shortstop Jhonny Peralta went into the hole to snare Jayson Werth's one-hop liner in the fourth and threw to first to end the inning.
Jose Lobaton singled with one out in the sixth for Washington's first baserunner and took an extra base when left fielder Matt Holliday bobbled the ball. But Zimmermann popped out and Span flied out to centre to end the inning.
"Needless to say, he had pretty good stuff," LaRoche said. "Both guys did."
Werth singled with one out in the seventh but was erased on LaRoche's double-play ball.
Lynn is 22-9 at home for his career, and shut out the Yankees in his first career complete game on May 27. He surrendered six runs in a total of 8 1-3 innings in a pair of losses in his next two starts at Toronto and against the Giants.
The game was played in a snappy 2 hours, 3 minutes, fastest of the season at Busch Stadium.
"Just a pretty quick, lifeless game offensively," LaRoche said. "It's amazing how quick that game was."
NOTES: A pair of 2009 first-round draft picks are matched on Saturday with Stephen Strasburg (6-4, 2.99 ERA) opposing Shelby Miller (7-5, 3.59 ERA). Miller is 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA against Washington. ... All four of Adams' homers have come at home. ... LaRoche made two nice defensive plays at first, scooping up the relay on Peralta's double-play ball in the fifth and then snaring Matt Carpenter's smash in the sixth. ... Zimmermann had won seven straight decisions in June before Friday, dating to 2012.