WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer was visibly upset. He was in the middle of his windup in the third inning when Greg Garcia, the Cardinals third baseman, was granted time by home plate umpire Alan Porter with an 0-2 count.
Scherzer said a few words to himself, then perhaps lost focus. He eventually walked lefty swinger Garcia with one out and two batters later walked Matt Holliday to force in a run. Hot-hitting Stephen Piscotty followed with the first grand slam of his career to make it 5-0 and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to defeat the Washington Nationals 6-2 on Friday.
"I wasn't frustrated with the Cardinals; they can call time," Scherzer said. Porter "granted (time) just a tad late. You can get hurt doing that. I don't want to get hurt."
Said Piscotty, the cleanup hitter and right fielder: "I'm just trying to get a good pitch over the middle of the plate. I put a good swing on it. In that situation you don't want to get too big. He's got good stuff, and you don't want to chase. You feel good in that spot, but you always want to keep adding on."
Scherzer, pitching against his hometown team, has now allowed 10 homers in his last five starts. The rough outing Friday came after he struck out 20 batters in his last appearance at Nationals Park, against the Detroit Tigers on May 11.
"It was a dumb pitch," Scherzer said of the homer by Piscotty. "I threw another slider and I hung it. I know I have been giving up a ton of homers."
St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia (4-4) gave up seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
"Jaime was good. You can tell when his sink's there. He had very good movement. He used his changeup and slider, but his sinker was a great pitch for him today," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
The pitcher from Mexico, who was efficient with just 92 pitches, also began a third-inning rally with a one-out single.
"It helped (him) to get five runs," said Dusty Baker, the Washington manager.
Scherzer (5-4) has allowed a MLB-high 15 homers. He did not allow a hit in any inning except the third, when the Cardinals scored five runs on three hits and two walks.
"It seems like I keep walking left-handed hitters," Scherzer said. "I have to find a way to attack the left-handed hitters and keep them at bay."
Scherzer retired the final 14 batters he faced after the Piscotty grand slam. He ended the night allowing five runs on three hits with four walks and six strikeouts in seven innings.
The Nationals cut the lead to 5-2 in the sixth when Bryce Harper scored on a double play grounder off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman, who was robbed of a hit by third baseman Greg Garcia.
Greg Garcia then made it 6-2 in the eighth with a solo homer on the first pitch from Washington reliever Yusmeiro Petit. Kevin Siegrist pitched a scoreless eighth for the Cardinals and Matt Bowman, who went to St. Albans High in Washington, D.C., threw a shaky ninth but got three outs after Anthony Rendon began the inning with a single that hit off the leg of Bowman.
St. Louis (25-24) beat Washington for the first time in five tries this year while the Nationals (29-20) fell to 4-5 against National League Central teams. Ben Revere and Rendon had two hits for the Nationals.
The Cardinals scored five runs off Scherzer in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead.
Matt Holliday walked with the bases loaded to drive in the first run. Piscotty, who made his big league debut in July, followed with the slam to make it 5-0.
The Nationals got on the board in the fifth as Danny Espinosa led off with a solo homer on an 0-2 pitch to trim the margin to 5-1. Later in the inning, Jaime Garcia threw a pitch above the head of Revere, prompting Porter to issue a warning to both dugouts.
Scherzer, in his last start at home, fanned 20 batters in a win May 11 against the Detroit Tigers. In his previous three starts, he had struck out 38 batters in 23 1/3 innings.
Jaime Garcia gave up 10 hits and five runs in 2 1/3 innings in his last start, Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"I was very comfortable. I had a couple mistakes, but for the most part I was able to execute my pitches," he said.
NOTES: Cardinals 1B Matt Adams, who left Thursday's game with back spasms in the fifth inning, was not in the starting lineup but said he was available if needed but he did not play. "I did a full body workout and swung in the cage a little bit," he said before the game. "I feel good; I think it is in a good spot." Adams is hitting .320 with six homers and 21 RBIs. ... Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 2.87 ERA) will face St. Louis RHP Adam Wainwright (4-3, 5.77) on Saturday in the third game of the four-game set. ... Nationals RHP Max Scherzer, the Friday starter, is a native of Chesterfield, Mo., and attended Parkway Central High School. ... Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy, who got the night off Thursday, was back in the lineup as the cleanup hitter. He began play as the MLB leader in hitting (.394) and with 24 multi-hit games and then went 1-for-3.