ST. LOUIS – Matt Adams continued his hot-hitting since returning from the disabled list. The Cardinals’ first baseman hit a home run in his third straight game to give the Cardinals a lead Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium. St. Louis went on to send its fans home with a 5-2 Fathers Day win and a series sweep.
“As you guys saw, my defense made a number of good plays behind me,” Cardinals’ starting pitcher Jaime Garcia said. “The offense did a great job. It was just an overall team win today.”
Allen Craig picked up the Cardinals’ first hit of the game, a soft single up the middle to open the second inning. Down 0-2 in the count, Adams crushed the third pitch he saw 383-feet over the right field fence giving the Redbirds a two run lead.
Adams said he wasn’t looking for any special pitch.
“I was just ready to get the barrel on the ball,” Adams said.
With his dad visiting for the series, Adams homered in all three games his father was in the stands.
“Today is Fathers Day,” Adams said. “I was just trying to go out there and play hard the last few days.”
When asked if Adams was going to keep his father around because of his recent power display, Adams declined the idea.
“No, he has got to go home,” Adams said. “Unfortunately he has to go.”
Following the blast, the sellout crowd (45,325) continued to cheer until Adams popped out of the dugout for a curtain call, tipping his cap to the fans. Before his stint on the DL, Adams had just three home runs on the season spanning 194 at bats. Since his return, the slugging first baseman has homered three times in his first 11 trips to the plate.
“He just keeps going,” Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny said. “He is putting together some really good at bats. Watching the ball jump out of the park for Matt and then the other Matt (Holliday), the ball was absolutely hammered.”
Matt Holliday added to the lead in the bottom of the third when he absolutely crushed the first pitch Doug Firster threw to left center. The Nationals' left fielder could only slowly jog, turn and watch as the ball sailed 439-feet into the stands. For Holliday, it was the fifth home run of the season and his 250th career run batted in at Busch Stadium.
Garcia was appreciative of the offensive and defensive support.
“I think every start that I have made this year,” Garcia said, “the defense and the offense have done a number of good jobs. That is all you can ask for. It is a little of a relief, but at the same time I don’t really think about the score and anything, but it is always a relief when your offense is able to score a couple of runs early.”
Washington got its first run in the top of the fifth.
Danny Espinoza singled to open the fifth and moved to second on a wild pitch. Two outs later, Anthony Rendon walked and Nate McLouth beat out an infield single just over the bag at first base to load the bases. Springfield, Ill., native Jayson Werth then walked on five pitches, collecting an RBI as he forced in a run.
That was all the Nats would get though as they left the bases loaded.
“The goal should be that you never give in and never give up,” Garcia said. “You always continue to make pitches no matter what the situation behind you. I was able to do a good job on that.”
St. Louis (37-32) got the run back in the bottom of the fifth. Kolten Wong led off with a standup triple to the right field corner and scored on Holliday’s sacrifice fly. The sac-fly put Holliday one RBI away from 1,000 for his career.
The Redbirds got one more run in the seventh. Holliday walked with two outs and scored from first on Craig’s RBI double down the left field line.
“The past couple of days, this has definitely been the team we have known we are capable of,” Adams said. “We didn’t change anything. Everything is just clicking right now.”
The Nationals had a very good opportunity to score in the top of the second, but failed to score while leaving the bases loaded.
With one out, Scott Hairston singled off the left field wall, but Holliday played it perfectly, turning what should have been a double, into a single. Ian Desmond followed with a single and Danny Espinoza was hit by a pitch to load the bases, still with one out.
“Matt has got a good arm,” Matheny said. “He has been more aggressive lately than I have ever seen. I think he is realizing that he can make a difference out there. … It was a great aggressive play and we hope he keeps up that kind of attitude.”
Sandy Leon hit a fielder’s choice to Matt Carpenter at third that Carpenter fired home to force out Hairston and keep the Nationals (35-33) off the board. Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (5-2) then struck out swinging to end the inning and Washington’s threat.
Matheny said Carpenter’s play was a “heads up move.”
“We had some good defensive plays,” Matheny said. “One of the big ones was with the bases loaded and Carpenter coming up with the chopper and cutting down at the plate. Great instincts.”
The Cardinals’ defense made two stellar plays in the top of the fourth.
Craig dove for a Ryan Zimmerman ball out in left field, just making the catch to rob the Nationals’ first baseman of a single. The very next batter, Hairston, lined one right past Cardinals’ pitcher Jaime Garcia. The ball looked like it would go up the middle for a single. But with the shift on, Kolten Wong came out of nowhere to snack the ball in mid air for the second out. Garcia then struck out Espinoza to end the frame.
“Kolten wowing there a little bit,” Matheny said. “It was neat to see the fans respond like that to a defensive play like they do with the longball. They appreciate the little things that the guys are doing right there.”
Garcia (3-0) threw 100 pitches over seven innings. The lefty retired seven straight at one point, three of which were strikeouts. He struck out six in all and walked two while giving up five hits and one earned run.
“I probably didn’t have my best stuff today,” Garcia said. “But, at the same time, you go out and compete, you battle and try to keep your team in the game and give your team a chance to win.”
Jason Motte pitched a perfect eighth inning in which he struck out two, Werth and Hairston. Sam Freeman got the first two outs in the ninth before allowing a pair of two-out singles. Freeman gave way to Trevor Rosenthal who gave up a single to Rendon to load the bases, for the third time in the game. Rosenthal then walked pinch hitter Adam LaRoche on a full count to force in the Nationals second run of the game. Rosenthal earned his 20th save of the season when he got Werth to foul out to Adams, ending the game.
It was the third time Washington left the bases loaded Sunday afternoon.
St. Louis will host the New York Mets Monday night at 7:15 p.m. while the Nationals will be off Monday before hosting the Houston Astros on Tuesday. Carlos Martinez (0-3) will make his first start of the season for the Cardinals as Adam Wainwright’s spot in the rotation is skipped this time around due to tendinitis. It will be Martinez’s first start at the Major League level.