Waino sparks offense, holds off Nats' surge

Waino sparks offense, holds off Nats' surge

WASHINGTON -- Adam Wainwright helped himself with the bat and withstood a Nationals home run charge as the Cardinals won, 9-4, Saturday night at Nationals Park.

Wainwright pitched a solid seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits as St. Louis won the seventh consecutive game started by the right-hander.

"He was great," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He established his fastball. That was huge. He was sinking it, he was cutting it. And then he got the curveball going. He had a good day."

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Wainwright's two-run double highlighted a four-run second inning off Gio Gonzalez, who couldn't get through the fifth. Gonzalez was gone after 4 2/3 innings, chased after surrendering an RBI double to Randal Grichuk. Location seemed to be the problem for Gonzalez.

"It really hurt when Wainwright hit the double," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "These guys are getting a bunch of two-out RBI hits against us. They are really hitting with runners in scoring position. We knew they could hit."

The Nationals tried to keep it close against Wainwright using the long ball. Bryce Harper hit his 13th home run of the season, a solo shot over the center-field fence in the sixth inning. Ryan Zimmerman hit two home runs and collected four hits and three RBIs. His second homer made it a 6-4 game in the seventh inning.

Statcast: Harper's laser shot

But a two-run double by pinch-hitter Matt Adams in the eighth inning off left-hander Sammy Solis made it a four-run game. Yadier Molina added to the lead with a sacrifice fly off Shawn Kelley.

Wainwright, who got off to a slow start this season but has rebounded in recent weeks, applauded the Cardinals' offense for scoring enough runs to overcome the Nationals' home runs.

"My stuff is back," Wainwright said. "I've just got to hone it a little. If I make those pitches on the corners or even out toward the corners, they're probably ground balls or maybe singles. Home runs sometimes can cost you the lead or a loss, but luckily our offense did a great job today."

Cardinals turn two in the 7th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Four runs in the second: St. Louis' big rally came with two outs in the second inning. With a man already on first base, Jedd Gyorko walked, Greg Garcia singled in a run, Wainwright doubled home two, and Matt Carpenter capped things off with an RBI two-bagger. It was the second straight night the Cardinals broke through with a big inning early in the game, after they notched five in the third Friday.

"We kept making things happen with two outs," Matheny said. "Just kind of relentless at-bats. You could tell [Gonzalez] had good stuff by the swings and misses he had in the first. We just worked some deep counts."

Carpenter's RBI double

Too many pitches for Gio early: After striking out the side in the first inning, Gonzalez couldn't find his rhythm in the second. He threw 40 pitches and allowed the four runs on three hits. Gonzalez also had two walks in the frame. Like Max Scherzer the previous night, Gonzalez couldn't put away hitters with two strikes.

"[It's bothering me] how much work I'm giving my bullpen. I can't stand that," Gonzalez said. "I'm a way better pitcher than I'm showing out there. It sucks that they are constantly picking up my mess. As a pitcher, I pride myself in being the guy that goes the distance and work his tail off. That's something I want to go and work on."

Gio strikes out the side

Another big day for Greg: Garcia got his third straight start at third base for the Cardinals and once again made the most of it. He drove in a run with a single in the second, doubled to deep center field in the sixth and reached on a bunt single in the eighth. Garcia, who was called up Thursday when Carpenter went on paternity leave, is 5-for-7 with three walks in this series and is making St. Louis look wise for keeping him around.

"That's just a young player taking advantage. Give a guy a chance and watch him run and let him do his thing," Matheny said. "It's fun when you can bring up a young player and he's got that energy." More >

Garcia's three-hit game

Zim attacking: Zimmerman had his best game of the season, going 4-for-4 and raising his batting average to .244. He now has 16 multi-homer games in his career.

"Anytime [you have four hits], it always feels good. You wish you can do it in a win," Zimmerman said. "For me, I have to keep going, keep working like I always do. By the end of the year, the numbers will be where they are supposed to be."

Zimmerman's four-hit game

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
After blooping a single to right field in the second inning, Daniel Murphy now has 41 hits in May, the most for any hitter in one month in Nationals history. More >

WHAT'S NEXT
Cardinals: Michael Wacha will take the mound Sunday (12:35 p.m. CT) for St. Louis to close out this four-game series against the Nationals. Wacha has had a tough couple of weeks, lasting only four innings in each of his past three starts. His last time on the mound, facing the Cubs at Busch Stadium, he allowed a season-high eight runs.

Nationals: The Nationals have won 14 consecutive starts made by Stephen Strasburg, extending his own franchise record. Since he returned from the DL last June, only Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw own a better ERA than Strasburg. He starts the action Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. 

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington and covered the Cardinals on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.