ST. LOUIS -- Lance Lynn was confident that if he had told anybody when he arrived at Busch Stadium that he might do what he did on Friday night, they wouldn't have believed him.
Big innings and struggles with command did Lynn in during his first two starts of the month. But on Friday night against Washington, this was a different Lynn.
The right-hander lost a perfect game when he gave up a single with one out in the sixth, but finished eight scoreless innings, allowing two hits. One swing gave him all the run support he needed, as a solo home run from Matt Adams was enough for the Cardinals to pick up a 1-0 win over the Nationals in front of 41,519.
"When things are going well like it was today, you couldn't ask for anything better," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I didn't see pressure, I didn't see him being distracted. He looked like he was focused on making good pitches."
Lynn struggled with command in his last two starts, surrendering eight walks. He followed up a 3 1/3-inning outing with five innings against Toronto last Friday, but while he allowed only two runs, he labored through inning after inning while working his way out of jams.
There was no such trouble this time. Lynn made quick work of the Nationals' lineup, cruising through the first five innings without allowing so much as a baserunner. He struck out the first hitter he faced in the sixth and got two quick strikes on the second.
It was then that Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton worked the count to 2-2 before taking a fastball down the third-base line for the Nationals' first hit and baserunner of the night.
"You get hits; people get hits," Lynn said. "Not everybody throws a no-hitter every time. That would be a boring game."
Lobaton moved to second on his single when Matt Holliday misplayed the ball, but Lynn stranded him there after a Jordan Zimmermann popout and a Denard Span liner to center. An inning later, right fielder Jayson Werth singled up the middle. Lynn erased that threat when he got a grounder to third baseman Matt Carpenter, who was playing behind second base in a shift and turned a 5-3 double play.
That was all the offense Washington could muster against Lynn, who struck out eight hitters in eight innings, including two of the final three hitters he faced.
"He threw a lot of [fastballs] that came back to the plate, started off the plate and came back to the outside corner," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "He threw really well. We hit some balls hard, but the difference tonight was one swing, and they got us."
That one swing came from Adams, who had been activated from the disabled list prior to the game. Adams, who missed 13 games with a strained left calf, proved he hadn't missed a beat.
With two outs in the second inning, Adams drilled a 1-0 fastball 419 feet over the fence in right-center.
"That's the game; that's the difference for us," Matheny said. "He's got ridiculous power, just the ability to get the ball high in the air. He lifted it out of the park."
"I was just trying to make sure my timing was where it needed to be and see the ball and get the barrel to it," said Adams of his fourth home run.
Adams collected two of the Cardinals' three hits on the night. His home run came in front of his father, who arrived in St. Louis early for Father's Day. Adams is hitting .330.
"I think he'll be all right with just that," Adams joked of the Father's Day gift.
Zimmermann went the distance on only 76 pitches for the Nationals, but against Lynn on this night, that wasn't enough. The one swing and one run was enough to hand him his third loss of the season.
Lynn, who tossed the first complete game of his career May 27 against the Yankees, didn't get the chance to do so this time around. Having already thrown 111 pitches, he tried to convince Matheny to let him head out for a ninth, to no avail.
"[We had] an opportunity to get him out of the game right there in a great opportunity to hand it over to the bullpen and not run his pitch count any higher than what it was," Matheny said. "Right there we're going for the win and we've got to go with everything we've got."
Closer Trevor Rosenthal struck out three, working around second baseman Kolten Wong's error on what would have been a game-ending groundout by Span, to finish out a shutout in two hours and three minutes.
The shutout was the fourth by the Cardinals pitching staff in the last five games, giving them the most in the Majors this season with 14.
"You're not going to feel good every time out," Lynn said. "If I would have told you I was going to throw eight shutout innings when I showed up today, you would have told me I was a liar. It's that time of the year when you have to get over the hump. Some days are better than others."
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.