Nationals-Cardinals Preview

The St. Louis Cardinals will have leading hitter Matt Adams back for the start of a 10-game homestand Friday night, news that should make Lance Lynn optimistic that run support might not be far off.

The Cardinals’ first baseman returns to the lineup as his team looks to continue its dominance over the Washington Nationals in the opener of a three-game series.

Adams, batting .325 in 52 games, had been on the disabled list with a strained left calf and last played May 28.

"He feels good," manager Mike Matheny told the Cardinals’ official website. "He’s running and not having any relapses."

Adams is a .391 hitter with at least a hit in six career games against the Nationals (35-30).

Lynn (6-4, 3.49 ERA) has been given one run of support in two starts without Adams, going 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA. The right-hander has issued 11 walks in his last three starts, including four over five innings in last Friday’s 3-1 loss in Toronto.

"Obviously it wasn’t the kind of outing he wanted," Matheny said.

Lynn earned a 4-3 win in Washington on April 19 and is 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two career starts against the Nationals. Danny Espinosa is 3 for 5 with two home runs when facing Lynn.

Jordan Zimmermann (5-2, 3.17) has been considerably better than Lynn lately with consecutive wins. He beat San Diego 6-0 on Sunday, allowing two hits and striking out a career-high 12 while tossing his first complete game of the season. Zimmermann has recorded 18 consecutive scoreless innings with rising confidence in his fastball.

"I got a lot of strikeouts (Sunday), which means my fastball is pretty good," he told the team’s official website. "I was able to locate it pretty good. For the most part, I was throwing strikes and let the guys behind me play defense."

Continuing the scoreless streak against St. Louis (34-32) will require a considerable turnaround after going 0-4 with a 7.03 ERA in his first seven matchups, including the loss to Lynn on April 19.

Adams is 3 for 6 with a home run off Zimmermann while Jon Jay, who has a seven-game hitting streak, is 7 for 15. Yadier Molina is 6 for 14.

The clubs split four games April 17-20 in Washington, but St. Louis is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings – including the postseason. The Nationals are batting .195 with 2.31 runs per game in that span.

Things have run much smoother for the first-place Nationals recently, though a 7-1 loss Thursday in San Francisco derailed a four-game winning streak. They’ve won eight of 10 behind a strong starting staff that has posted a 1.43 ERA and 8-1 record.

The Cardinals, who have lost six of seven at home, had a three-game winning streak snapped with Wednesday’s 6-3 loss in Tampa Bay to conclude a 4-3 road trip. Despite the six runs allowed, the Cardinals have posted a 2.03 ERA and .201 opponent’s batting average over the last seven games.

One area Matheny would like to see more action is on the basepaths. St. Louis is 14th in the NL with 27 steals, though it’s succeeded 79.4 percent of the time.

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond has a season-best seven-game hitting streak, and he’s 3 for 6 in the regular season against Lynn.