ST. LOUIS - The timing was perfect for Matt Adams' dad to make a weekend visit to Busch Stadium. The burly first baseman is playing well after a stint on the 15-day disabled list, giving Jamie Adams a lot to smile about.
"I think anybody here would like to have their parents around, especially on Father's Day weekend," Adams said after hitting the go-ahead home run for the second straight game in a 4-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
"Tonight was a little better," Adams said. "Coming the day before Father's Day is great."
Adams connected against Stephen Strasburg in St. Louis' three-run seventh inning, driving a 3-1 offering over the wall in right-centre. On Friday, he homered on his first swing in his return from a left calf strain, lifting St. Louis to a 1-0 victory.
"I think I'm just waiting out the pitchers," Adams said. "I went down to Memphis to get my timing back and my confidence is up."
The Cardinals batted around in the seventh with the help of two infield hits, a hit batter and two walks, one of them by Matt Holliday with the bases loaded against Drew Storen. Allen Craig added an infield hit off Storen on a slow tapper halfway down the third-base line.
"What can you say?" Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton said. "They've been throwing good and today was one of those days."
Jayson Werth had an RBI double in the first for the Nationals, who managed just four hits for a two-day total of six. It's their first series loss since losing a pair to Miami from May 26-28, and they will try to avoid a three-game sweep in the series finale Sunday.
St. Louis reliever Randy Choate (1-2) needed one pitch to escape a bases-loaded threat in the seventh after a strong start from Shelby Miller, who gave up four hits in 6 2-3 innings. Pat Neshek worked a perfect eighth and Trevor Rosenthal finished for his 19th save in 22 chances.
Strasburg allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings in his first career appearance in St. Louis. It was his 11th consecutive quality start, but he dropped to 5-3 with a 2.22 ERA in that stretch that began April 20 when he gave up two runs in six innings at home against the Cardinals.
Strasburg didn't pitch in the 2012 NL division series against St. Louis after the Nationals shut him down the final month of the season. They lost a five-game series.
"It was just fun to finally get a chance to pitch here," Strasburg said. "I wanted to go out there and give it everything I had and I feel like I did that, so I can sleep easy tonight."
Strasburg allowed just two homers in his previous seven starts, and Adams' long ball was the Cardinals' first off the right-hander in four career appearances.
"In the grand scheme of things you can always second-guess yourself, but I think if I threw a 3-1 changeup there, especially if he's in swing mode, I probably wouldn't have had that result," Strasburg said.
"Who knows? I'm not going to dwell on it too much, just going to learn from it and move on."
St. Louis pitchers have permitted just one run in the Cardinals' last five victories, including a pair of 5-0 wins over Toronto and a 1-0 victory against Tampa Bay.
Miller matched his season best with seven strikeouts but walked four, including two for Strasburg, batting .077 with two hits on the year. Strasburg's second walk loaded the bases, but Denard Span grounded out against Choate.
"I'll say this just to make him mad, but it looks like he got a little tired," manager Mike Matheny said of Miller. "Those are the things that they don't like to hear, so he'll come back and have something to say about that for sure."
Span went 0 for 4 and is hitless in his last 18 at-bats over the last five games.
Anthony Rendon singled with one out in the first and scored from first on Werth's double to right-centre. Craig made a sliding stop to cut the ball off and couldn't recover in time.
It was tied in the third after a two-out rally started by Miller's fourth hit of the season — and third double. The pitcher scored standing up on Matt Carpenter's single.
NOTES: Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia (2-0, 4.26 ERA) opposes Doug Fister (5-1, 2.68 ERA) on Sunday. Garcia is 3-1 against the Nationals and Fister has won his last five starts. ... The game time of 2 hours, 3 minutes for the series opener Friday night was the shortest in the major leagues this season. ... The Cardinals have won 11 of the last 13 regular-season meetings with Washington and are 17-2 at home the last two years against the NL East. ... The Nationals are 30-2 when scoring four or more runs and 5-30 when scoring three or fewer runs.