WASHINGTON (AP) As Jaime Garcia rediscovered his winning form, pitching counterpart Max Scherzer lost the strike zone and then the game by allowing yet another home run.
Stephen Piscotty hit a grand slam off Scherzer during a five-run third inning and Garcia quieted the Washington Nationals lineup as the St. Louis Cardinals won 6-2 on Friday night.
Coming off consecutive ineffective starts, Garcia held Washington to two runs and seven hits over seven innings. The Cardinals had lost four of five.
''You can tell when his (sinker) is there,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Garcia, who opened the game with four scoreless innings. ''He had very good movement and used his changeup and slider, but the sinker was a great pitch for him tonight.''
Scherzer allowed two earned runs in each of his previous three starts including his 20-strikeout gem on May 11 in a victory over Detroit. That version didn't show early against St. Louis. He walked four batters and allowed five runs, all by the third inning. Scherzer surrendered three hits over seven innings.
Danny Espinosa's second home run in as many games broke up Garcia's shutout bid in the fifth.
Bryce Harper went 1 for 4 after hitting the go-ahead home run in Washington's 2-1 series-opening win Thursday.
Greg Garcia homered for St. Louis, which scored six runs on four hits.
Jaime Garcia's one-out single in the third was the first hit off Scherzer and started a stretch of five straight batters to reach base. After Scherzer walked Matt Holliday with the bases loaded to score Garcia, Piscotty made it 5-0 with his first career grand slam deep into the stands in left field.
''It wasn't the home run pitch,'' Nationals manager Dusty Baker said of Scherzer's troubles. ''It was the walks before the home run. That's what really hurt.''
Piscotty recognized Scherzer fell into slider-heavy rut against him.
''Including the (previous) at-bat he threw me four straight sliders,'' the right fielder said. ''Luckily I got that one.''
Scherzer, who finished with six strikeouts, then reversed course by retiring the final 14 batters he faced. He leads the majors with 15 home runs allowed and has alternated wins and losses over his last six starts.
''I know I've been giving up a ton of home runs,'' Scherzer stated, ''but that one, that's just an execution thing. That's just me not throwing the right pitch at the right time and with poor execution.''
With the victory, St. Louis improved to 25-24, avoiding falling below .500 for the first time since a 13-14 record on May 3.
In his previous outing against the Nationals this season, Garcia allowed four runs over 6 1/3 innings in a 6-1 home loss on April 30. He gave up eight runs and 15 hits combined over his last two starts.
''I made some adjustments I needed to make,'' Garcia said. ''That's part of baseball, that's part of pitching.''
NOT HERE FOR LONG
INF Greg Garcia began his second stint with St. Louis this season after being recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Thursday with Matt Carpenter placed on the paternity list. Along with the home run, he walked twice, scored two runs and started a double play. Yet with Carpenter expected back Saturday, he will probably return to Memphis despite batting .615.
STRANDED AT THE DRIVE-IN: Washington went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Harper and Ryan Zimmerman each grounded into double plays with two runners on base. Zimmerman's scored Harper in the sixth to make the score 5-2.
Cardinals: 1B Matt Adams did not start, but was available despite leaving in the fifth inning of Thursday's loss due to mid-back stiffness.
Nationals: RHP Taylor Jordan, who pitched for the Nationals during each of the previous three seasons, underwent Tommy John surgery on Thursday. Jordan, who made three appearances for Triple-A Syracuse this season, had the same procedure in 2011.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (4-3, 5.77 ERA) makes his first appearance against the Nationals since 2014. He is 7-3 with a 2.18 ERA all-time versus Washington.
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 2.87) allowed seven runs and 10 hits over five innings in his previous start, a 7-1 loss to the New York Mets.