Cardinals try to avoid walks in Nationals Park

WASHINGTON — Tuesday night’s victory made it easy to overlook the fact that St. Louis Cardinals pitchers are issuing way too many walks these days.

Yadier Molina smacked a grand slam, Marcell Ozuna homered twice and St. Louis beat the Washington Nationals 11-8 to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Cardinals hope right-hander Miles Mikolas (13-4, 2.96 ERA) reverses the trend when he opposes right-hander Tanner Roark (8-14, 4.03) in Wednesday night’s series finale.

Molina provided a cushion for St. Louis (77-62) via his sixth career slam, which made it 11-5 with two outs in the ninth and Jordan Hicks later got the final out with the tying run at the plate.

The 4-hour, 10-minute game included 16 walks and 20 strikeouts, with 11 walks coming from Cardinals’ pitchers.

“The walks are concerning. That’s 11, 10 yesterday and eight the day before,” Shildt said. “It’s actually kind of impressive/depressive (depending) how you want to look at it. We’ve had a real opportunity to win all the last three games.”

Washington pitchers gave up a more reasonable number of walks, but surrendered five home runs, including three in the sixth inning. Reliever Austen Williams, in his second major league game, was victimized in the sixth and Sammy Solis gave up Molina’s grand slam.

“They are going to get an opportunity to pitch so they got to realize if they want to pitch here they got to get outs,” Martinez said. “These are the things we have to see. I can’t keep using the same guys every single day. These guys have to pitch.”

Molina’s homer and one by Paul DeJong in the sixth came on 0-2 pitches.

That can’t happen,” Martinez said. “I told them all ‘hey with our offense we’re going to score (runs). Every inning you guys come in is a closer inning. You got to go in there like you’re going to close the game out.’ That’s how important these innings are.”

The Nationals (69-70) fell below .500 after nearly pulling off their third come-from-behind win in five days.

Roark had been sizzling since the All-Star break, but struggled in his last start, allowing four runs on six hits in six innings of a loss to the Brewers. Three of the Milwaukee hits were home runs.

“Just a little erratic at times, not hitting my spots, and they made me pay for it,” Roark told, in summing up his outing after the game.

Roark is 2-2 with a 5.57 ERA in six games (four starts) against the Cardinals. He picked up a win against them Aug. 16 in St. Louis when he allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings.

Mikolas, who had originally been announced as Tuesday’s starter, was moved to Wednesday with John Gant taking the ball Tuesday night. Mikolas took his first loss since June 29 in his last start, when he allowed two runs on eight hits over five innings.

“I don’t want to say I’m a victim of bad luck, but a couple of those balls, a couple feet this way or that way, I don’t think they are scoring a run at all,” Mikolas told

In his last two starts, he has allowed seven runs (six earned) on 20 hits in 9 2/3 innings.

He gave up four runs in seven innings to Washington in a Cardinals’ victory Aug. 13. He’s 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in two games versus the Nationals in his career.