Michael Wacha got the best of Max Scherzer in a pitcher's duel, Matt Adams singled in the tiebreaking run in the sixth inning and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 4-1 Thursday for their fourth straight series win.
Matt Carpenter had two hits and scored a run for the Cardinals, who have won seven of eight. St. Louis took two of three from the Nationals in a matchup of 2014 division champions and remained unbeaten in series play this year (4-0-1).
Wacha (3-0) allowed one run and five hits in seven innings while lowering his ERA to 1.33. The right-hander walked two and struck out six, including Jose Lobaton three times.
Scherzer (1-2) also went seven innings, giving up two runs and six hits. It was the first time in his four starts with Washington that the 2013 Cy Young winner surrendered more than one earned run.
Scherzer allowed the first two batters to reach base, then retired 16 of 17 before Jason Heyward singled with two outs in the sixth. The right-hander hit Matt Holliday with a pitch before Adams delivered a single to left for a 2-1 lead.
St. Louis added two runs in the eighth. After Holliday singled with two outs, pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds doubled to center. The throw to the plate was wild as Holliday scored, and Reynolds came home after pitcher Aaron Barrett's heave to second went into the outfield.
Facing the Cardinals for the first time since 2009, Scherzer, a St. Louis native, got off to a wobbly start. Carpenter lined the first pitch of the game into center field for a double, moved up on a single by Heyward and scored on a wild pitch.
Washington got runners on the corners with two outs in the fourth before Wacha struck out Lobaton.
In the Nationals fifth, Danny Espinosa led off with a double and Scherzer reached when a replay determined that Adams took his foot off first base before taking a throw. Denard Span followed with an RBI single, and Scherzer chugged to third on the play with no outs.
Cardinals: OF Peter Bourjos is expected to return from paternity leave for Friday's game in Milwaukee. His wife, Ashley-Grace, gave birth Monday to a son, Maxton Christopher.
Nationals: OF Anthony Rendon (left knee sprain) worked out the squad before the game and will start a rehabilitation assignment Friday with Double-A Harrisburg. ''He's got to get in baseball shape,'' manager Matt Williams said.
Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (1-0, 2.08 ERA) gets his third start of the season Friday night in the opener of a three-game set against the Brewers. St. Louis took two of three from Milwaukee at home last week.
Nationals: Washington sends Jordan Zimmermann and his 6.14 ERA to the mound vs. the Marlins to launch a 10-game road trip that goes through Miami, Atlanta and New York.
Link to box score: St. Louis (10-4) 4 at Washington (7-9) 1