ST. LOUIS (AP) — Yadier Molina homered twice on a day he paired with St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright to tie the major league record of 324 starts by a battery in an 11-6 loss to the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

Alex Call had four hits and five RBIs for Washington, including a three-run homer off James Naile in the ninth.

“Guys are stingy with throwing balls down the middle here, there’s no doubt about that, but they still throw them,” Call said. “They still throw pitches that you can hit, so just being able to adjust and being ready for it no matter what, that’s the key.”

Wainwright and Molina matched the mark set by Detroit’s Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan from 1963-75.

“It’s been a good run,” Wainwright said. “He’s an incredible teammate, friend, and partner in crime. We’ve been together for a long time. So, you know, we got to finish strong.”

Molina hit a two-run homer into the third deck in left field in the third and a solo shot just over the wall in the fourth. It was the ninth career multi-homer game for Molina and his first since April 17, 2021, at Philadelphia.

“We’re in a good position, we’re having fun,” Molina said.

Wainwright allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings. It was the second-straight subpar start for Wainwright, who said his mechanics are off.

“The timing of the upper and lower half are just totally off,” Wainwright said. “So throwing a lot of middle pitches, throwing a lot of pitches a foot outside you can’t swing at, falling behind way too many accounts.”

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol has confidence that Wainwright will make the necessary adjustments quickly.

“I just sat down with our pitching guys and walked through it,” Marmol said. “We’ll address it in his next pen and go from there, but we’re in a good spot.”

The 41-year-old Wainwright and 40-year-old Molina got a standing ovation from the crowd of 40,437 as they made their way in from the bullpen moments before first pitch, and another after the top of the first inning. Wainwright and Molina are on track to break the record at home against Milwaukee on Sept. 14.

“Just to do it with him and we’re going to do it here at Busch, it’s going to be special for us,” Molina said.

The pair have totaled 13 All-Star Game appearances, and the Cardinals have reached the postseason in 11 of the 17 seasons the two have been on the roster.

César Hernández drove in three runs and Luis García broke a 4-4 tie with sixth-inning infield single off Jordan Hicks, who had relieved Andre Pallante (6-5). The Nationals had 18 hits and earned a four-game split.

Nationals starter Josiah Gray gave up four runs in 3 1/3 innings. Mason Thompson (1-0), Andrés Machado, Kyle Finnegan, Jake McGee and Carl Edwards Jr. combined for 5 2/3 innings in relief.

“It was awesome,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We struggled the first couple of innings, Josiah just couldn’t find the plate, but the boys hung in there. We scored some runs. I can’t say enough of how they play. I always say these guys will always play hard for 27 outs. Today’s the perfect example.”

St. Louis lost for just the fourth time in their last 24 home games.

YOUTH MOVEMENT

Cardinals OF Alec Burleson went 0 for 4 with a walk in his major league debut. He is the 15th player to make Cardinals debut this season. … Cardinals OF Ben DeLuzio got his first major league hit with a single in the fourth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: OF Victor Robles (neck stiffness) was a late scratch from the starting lineup and was replaced by Call.

Cardinals: OF Tyler O’Neill (neck stiffness) was held out of the starting lineup, but was available to pinch hit.

UP NEXT

Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (6-17, 6.28 ERA) will start the first of a three-game set Friday night at Philadelphia and RHP Noah Syndergaard (8-9, 4.07 ERA). Corbin is coming off his best outing of the season on Sept. 3 when he allowed one run on three hits in seven innings.

Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (11-10, 3.32 ERA) will open a three-game series Friday night at Pittsburgh, while the Pirates counter with RHP Roansy Contreras (4-4, 3.41 ERA). Mikolas allowed just two hits over eight scoreless innings in his last start on Sept. 4.

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