WASHINGTON (AP) -
can't find an obvious flaw in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup - or in their pitching staff.
The potent combination has the team off to its best start in 65 years.
hit one of the Cardinals' season-high four home runs, backing
's seven effective innings in a 6-2 win over the
on Friday night.
also connected off
, giving St. Louis homers from its 3-4-5 hitters off the rookie right-hander in his first career loss.
later added his first major league home run for St. Louis, which has won three in a row and nine of 11 overall.
''I feel like the middle of the order has been doing good, but I feel like the whole lineup has been doing a good job,'' Ludwick
said. ''I think we're still one of the top offensive leaders in baseball. Combine that with the pitching we're getting and
it's a deadly combination.''
The Cardinals' 17-7 start is their best since 1944 and they wasted no time in providing Wellemeyer an early lead against the
Nationals, whose 5-17 mark is the worst in the majors.
''The main thing is to go out and try to do as much damage as we can,'' Pujols said. ''Anytime you can give a lead to the
pitcher, he would love to take it. It gives him something to work on.''
Wellemeyer (2-2) allowed two runs on six hits, walked two and struck out three.
''He got into an early grove, and just concentrated great,'' Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said. ''Lately, he's had some
periods, especially early, where he wasn't quite right. He had to compete hard to stay in the game.''
The right-hander hopes Friday's start is a repeat of last May, when he went 4-0 and was named the pitcher of the month in
the National League.
''May last year was excellent to me, so keep it going,'' Wellemeyer said.
Washington finally got to Wellemeyer in the seventh.
tripled off the wall in center and
followed with a homer to right.
singled in the third, extending his hitting streak to a Nationals-record 20 games. It's the longest streak in the majors this
Pujols gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the first on his ninth homer, a towering shot down the left-field line.
A two-run homer by Duncan extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Pujols hit a leadoff double before Duncan sent a 1-0 fastball
from Zimmermann (2-1) into the stands in right-center.
In the sixth, Ludwick followed Pujols' third hit of the game with his sixth homer, ending an 0-for-13 skid.
''He's not perfect and he missed with his location a few times,'' Nationals manager Manny Acta said of Zimmermann. ''It happened
that every time he missed, the ball went out of the ballpark. He went after them, and that's what we like.''
Zimmermann, one of the top young pitching prospects in baseball, allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked
none and struck out six.
''Up here, they don't miss hardly as much as they do (in the minors),'' said Zimmermann, who had yielded one homer over 11
1-3 innings in his first two starts. ''You can't make those mistakes up here.''
Thurston lined a homer inside the right-field foul pole in the seventh off
Notes: St. Louis 2B
went 0 for 5, ending his hitting streak at a career-best 11 games. ... Cardinals starting pitchers have allowed only five
homers this season. ... The last 20-game hitting streak by a Washington, D.C.-based player came in 1953 by the Washington
. ... Flores has tripled on consecutive nights after having one triple in his first 187 career games.