ST. LOUIS — With two effortless swings of the bat Sunday afternoon, Carlos Beltran might have served notice that his recent slide is in the past.
Beltran shrugged off a 2-for-15 skid by ripping a pair of two-run homers in the St. Louis Cardinals' 10-4 victory over the Washington Nationals at Busch Stadium.
Beltran, 35, homered from both sides of the plate for the ninth time in his career. He connected on a 1-2 pitch from left-hander Ross Detwiler to make it 5-0 in the second and on another 1-2 pitch from right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to make it 9-4 in the fourth.
The veteran outfielder then closed the scoring with an RBI single against Zach Duke in the eighth.
"As a ballplayer, you're going to go through frustrations," Beltran said. "I try not to focus on that. I try to focus on the work that I do. I come to the ballpark and prepare myself.
"I approach the game every single day with the mentality of going out there and doing good for the team. Some days it happens, some days it doesn't happen."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Beltran's work ethic has been off the charts, whether he's sizzling or slumping.
"He's been working so hard," Matheny said. "The guy cares so much. It's really been bothering him that he hasn't been able to step up and contribute lately. Days like today remind us of just how good he is."
Beltran is batting .269 with 32 homers and 97 RBIs in 149 games, all the while being bothered by a sore right knee. Until Sunday, he had homered on a 1-2 pitch just one other time this season --April 18 against the Cincinnati Reds' Mat Latos.
Beltran needs three RBIs in three games against the Reds to reach the century mark for the eighth time in his career. He hasn't had 100 RBIs since 2008 with the New York Mets.
"It's always good to have a day like today, but tomorrow is another day," Beltran said. "I wish I knew (how to stay hot). I think you have to come to the ballpark every day and work with the things you have success with."
No. 18 for Lynn
Lance Lynn registered his 18th win of the season Sunday. He allowed four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, but struck out nine for the second consecutive game.
"We won. That's all the matters," said Lynn, who is 18-7 with a 3.78 ERA in his first season in the rotation. "The offense did great today and I was able to do my job except for the fourth inning."
That's when the Nationals cut the Cardinals' 7-0 lead to 7-4, but Beltran's second homer again put St. Louis back in control.
Lynn never dreamed of having a season that included 18 wins and a spot on the National League All-Star team.
"I thought I would have more (wins)," Lynn cracked. "But no, I've got a great team behind me. I was put in a great situation and I was able to get lucky. (But) it doesn't mean anything if we don't make the playoffs. That's all that matters right now."
Injured shortstop Rafael Furcal remains optimistic he will avoid surgery on the partially torn ligament in his right elbow.
Furcal isn't sure when he will be allowed to resume baseball activities.
"Maybe the doctor will make a decision tomorrow or in the next couple of days and we'll see what happens," Furcal said Sunday. "(But) it's still bothering me."
The injury occurred when Furcal made a throw Aug. 30 in Washington. Furcal had a platelet rich plasma injection Sept. 4 to accelerate the healing.
Furcal understands he probably is finished for the year, but he's not yet willing to totally concede.
"It just depends," Furcal said. "They say it's five to six weeks (to heal), and we've only had three weeks and a half, almost four. We don't want to take a chance to try and then it gets worse and them I have to have a surgery. That's what we're trying to avoid."
Furcal said surgery would cost him the 2013 season. With his 35th birthday less than a month away, that is not an appealing option.
Neither is sitting around, which is what Furcal is doing.
"I'm bored," he said. "It's disappointing for me."
Third baseman David Freese on Sunday returned to the Cardinals' lineup for the first time in a week after rolling his right ankle Monday in Houston.
Officially, Freese was in the lineup Monday, but he injured the ankle moments after the game began and was removed before taking the field. The last time he started, and played, was last Sunday in Chicago.
"It's good to have him back, especially with the lefty (Detwiler)," Matheny said. "We'll take everybody we can get. That's where we are."
Freese walked as a pinch-hitter Saturday and was lifted for pinch-runner Adron Chambers.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.