ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jordan Zimmermann always has trouble with the St. Louis Cardinals. Game 2 of the NL division series was no exception.
The Washington Nationals' right-hander retired the side in order in the first inning, then struggled to get anybody else out in a 12-4 loss Monday that evened the best-of-five series at a game apiece.
Carlos Beltran hit the last two of the Cardinals' four homers and St. Louis chased an ineffective Zimmermann after three innings. Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso also went deep to help the defending World Series champions build a big lead that compensated for a two-inning start from an ailing Jaime Garcia.
"They have a great lineup," Zimmermann said. "You get a few guys out and then you've got Beltran, (David) Freese and it never stops. You have to make your pitches and I wasn't able to do that tonight."
Zimmermann has never beaten the Cardinals in six career starts counting the postseason, allowing at least five runs in all but one of them. He yielded five runs and seven hits Monday, his shortest start of the season.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Zimmermann didn't mix it up enough and threw too many fastballs.
"All young staffs go through this. When you get into a thing like this, sometimes they revert back to just saying, 'OK, I'm going to go with what I feel is my best and pound away," Johnson said. "Zim's been better than that. You've got to get them off sitting on just one pitch."
After the perfect first inning for Zimmermann, seven of the next 11 batters reached safely as the Cardinals scored four in the second and one in the third to go up 5-1.
Washington catcher Kurt Suzuki said Zimmermann had the same stuff in the second inning as he did in the first. The Cardinals were the ones who made the key adjustments.
"They just came out and put some good at-bats together," Suzuki said. "They put the ball in play, moved runners around and when you do that you are going score some runs."
Craig hit his fifth career postseason homer and scored three times.
"You hate to get blown out, but you get walked off, it probably hurts a little bit more," Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth said. "The game was out of reach for a while. No big deal, a loss is a loss. We'll head home and feel good about it."
Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche hit consecutive homers in the fifth for the Nationals, who head home for the remainder of the best-of-five series. But the NL East champions are without All-Star ace Stephen Strasburg, shut down for the rest of the season early last month to protect his surgically repaired arm.
"I miss him not experiencing this with us and he misses not experiencing it with us," Johnson said. "But we did the right thing, there's no question.
"Obviously the guy was my No. 1. He'd have been the guy that opened up the series."
Game 3 is Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park, the first postseason contest in the nation's capital since the original Senators played the New York Giants in the 1933 World Series. Edwin Jackson starts for Washington against longtime Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who made only three starts during the regular season because of injury.
The Cardinals are good at bouncing back. They lost the division series and NLCS openers last fall, then finished strong in the World Series after spotting Texas a 3-2 lead.