WASHINGTON (AP) — For struggling Matt Adams, a return to Nationals Park was the perfect tonic.
Adams homered twice against his former team who traded him last month, Marcell Ozuna tied his career-high with four hits and the St. Louis Cardinals held off the Washington Nationals 7-6 on Wednesday night.
One night after bashing five homers against Washington, St. Louis settled for three in the rubber game of the series as Yairo Munoz had a solo shot in the sixth.
Adams victimized Tanner Roark with first-pitch homers on a curveball in the first inning and a changeup in the fifth.
“I’ve always seen the ball well in this ballpark,” Adams said. “I’m ready for his fastball. He has a good feel for that two-seamer, and I saw the curveball up and I saw the changeup up.”
Miles Mikolas (14-4) worked 6 2/3 innings and was charged with four runs on 12 hits. Carlos Martinez worked the final two innings for his first save since 2014, getting three straight outs in the ninth after the first two batters reached.
“He was clearly sharp in the eighth. He was pretty dominant again in the ninth, too,” manager Mike Shildt said. “A couple balls fell in, and he didn’t waver. He just went right at it and made some quality big-league pitches to bring it home.”
Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run double followed by Wilmer Difo’s RBI single pulled Washington within 7-6 in the seventh.
Bryce Harper had three hits for Washington on a day when general manager Mike Rizzo responded that he hasn’t considered any other scenario when asked if manager Dave Martinez will return in 2019.
Adams was signed by the Nationals in the offseason. The former Cardinal hit .258 with 18 homers for Washington and was traded back to St. Louis on Aug. 21, the same day Daniel Murphy was dealt to the Cubs.
Tuesday’s homers were Adams’ first since the trade. He came into the game 3 for 23 with the Cardinals.
“The home runs have really killed us,” Martinez said. “I look back, and we’re giving up way too many homers. We have to figure that out. We really do.”
Roark (8-15) was a loser for the third straight start. He gave up six runs on 10 hits over five innings.
It took the Cardinals just seven pitches to take a 3-0 lead. Following a pair of singles, Adams homered.
Fielding problems helped the Cardinals expand their lead in the second. With two outs, third baseman Anthony Rendon had trouble getting a Mikolas bouncer out of his glove. Then Matt Carpenter launched a flyball to the warning track in center that Harper lost sight of in the twilight for an RBI double.
Carpenter later scored to make it 5-0.
Adams struck again in fifth, hitting a solo shot into the back of the second deck.
“Like I’ve said a million times, if you don’t make your pitch, they hit it far,” Roark said. “And so he did it twice.”
Harper has reached base safely in 14 of his last 20 plate appearances. During this stretch he has eight walks, six hits and five RBIs.
Cardinals: C Yadier Molina left in the eighth inning with left hamstring tightness. Shildt said Molina told him, “I’ll be fine.” … 2B Kolten Wong (left hamstring strain) was activated from the 10-day disabled list after missing nine games. Shildt said Wong was available Wednesday in a limited capacity. . OF Harrison Bader started a night after fouling a ball off his ankle. “I said after the game ‘How are you feeling?'” Shildt said. “He said, ‘Five ounces can’t hurt me’ — the weight of a baseball.”
Nationals: LHP Sean Doolittle (left toe inflammation) threw another simulated game Wednesday. “He felt a lot better today than he did the previous game,” Martinez said. “Hopefully he’ll be back for the weekend.”
Cardinals: LHP Austin Gomber (5-0, 2.77 ERA) starts Friday at Detroit as St. Louis begins its final inter-league series of the season.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.09) starts the opener of a four-game series against the visiting Chicago Cubs. Strasburg is 2-2 with a 2.56 ERA in six career starts versus the Cubs.
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