Adams returns with a bang — three of ’em, actually — as Cards sweep Nats

Matt Adams has homered in all three games since coming off the disabled list with a torn calf muscle.

Jeff Roberson/AP

ST. LOUIS — With another home run in Sunday’s 5-2 victory over the Nationals at Busch Stadium, Matt Adams has hit three in his past three games — matching his total for his first 52 games this season.

But he insists he didn’t change his swing or magically plug into some power when he was on the disabled list with a calf injury. But Adams admitted he is doing something differently at the plate that could explain his weekend surge, which came off three pretty good pitchers in Doug Fister on Sunday, Stephen Strasburg on Saturday and Jordan Zimmermann on Friday.

"Besides the last couple of at-bats today, I was laying off the balls down (in the zone) better," Adams said. "Getting a pitch up that I could drive. That’s something I have to continue working on for the rest of the year."

Adams has been hitting all season, with a .327 batting average that would place him among the top five in the NL if he had enough plate appearances (he’s just four shy of qualifying going into this week). But until Friday, he was more about opposite-field singles than putting balls into the right-field seats.

Adams hasn’t been the only Cardinals player lacking in long balls, either. The team still ranks last in the NL — even after hitting at least one in six of their past seven games. Matt Holliday’s 439-foot blast into the left-center bleachers came an inning after Adams’ and gave the Cardinals their third-multi homer game of the month. It also gave manager Mike Matheny a chance to say, "I told you so."

"Everybody thought we were brainwashing them not to hit home runs or they all lost it collectively," Matheny said. "Both of them are ridiculous. These guys are going to hit home runs. It hasn’t happened so far, I get it, that everybody wants to know why. Right now, guys are getting through the ball well. They’re making good passes, they’re not trying to lift and we’re getting good results."

For Adams, the good results over the weekend came in front of his dad, Jamie, visiting from Philipsburg, Pa., for Father’s Day. The senior Adams got to be interviewed on FOX TV during Saturday’s game as well as see his son homer in three straight games to lead the Cardinals to a sweep of the Nationals.

Jamie Adams was scheduled to leave town Sunday night after spending a little more time with Matt. "He might give me a big hug and start crying," the slugger said before leaving the clubhouse. "He’s an emotional guy."

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And you’re going to let him leave when you’re on such a roll?

"Yeah, he’s gotta go home," Adams said. "Unfortunately."

3 UP

— Jaime Garcia. His sixth start of the season was his best yet, and he’s been plenty good in the others. Garcia worked seven innings for the fourth time and allowed only one run, which scored on a bases-loaded walk. He gave up five hits, walked two and improved to 3-0 while lowering his ERA to 3.72. Garcia threw 100 pitches for a second straight game, the first time he’s topped the century mark in consecutive starts since 2010.

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— Matt Holliday. With a third-inning blast into the center-field seats, he ended a 0-for-10 slide in a big way and gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead. Coupled with a homer he hit at Tampa Bay, it almost marked the first time this season that Holliday didn’t go at least 10 games between home runs. He’s up to five for the season, compared with 10 at this point last year. He’s also up to 999 RBI in his 11-year career.

— Defense. If you’re like me and note a standout defensive play with a star on your scorecard, your scorecard likely resembled the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Sunday. Kolten Wong made two star-worthy plays, with a diving catch of a line drive that earned a standing ovation and a diving stop of a grounder in the right-field hole between first and second. "Was nice to see the fans respond like that to a defensive play," Matheny said.

Matt Carpenter made a heads-up play to thwart a bases-loaded rally in the second, and Jon Jay and Allen Craig made sliding catches in the outfield to take away hits from the Nationals. Garcia even earned a small star when he reflexively caught a comeback liner from Anthony Rendon in the seventh. 


— Nationals at Busch Stadium. Washington must be glad it visits St. Louis only once a season. The Nationals have been beaten here like a teenager’s car. The Cardinals have won 18 of the 20 regular-season meetings since 2008, including this weekend’s sweep. The Nationals have managed a total of just six runs in losing their past six games at Busch Stadium.

— Matt Carpenter. He endured just his third 0-for-4 in the past month, a stretch when he lifted his average to .287 from .256. Carpenter twice came up with two on and two out, and grounded out and flew out, dropping his batting average with RISP to .345. He was the only position player without a hit in the Cardinals’ nine-hit attack.

— Sam Freeman. The lefty reliever was charged with his first run of the season in his ninth outing covering nine innings. Entering with a 5-1 lead in the ninth, Freeman retired the first two batters before allowing consecutive singles and giving way to Trevor Rosenthal. Before picking up a one-out save, Rosenthal allowed a single and a bases-loaded walk, the run going to Freeman.

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