The St. Louis Cardinals are on a tear at home and the San Francisco Giants may need to solve it to remain atop the NL West.
Lance Lynn looks to keep the Cardinals rolling by continuing his own unbeaten stretch Tuesday night against the Giants.
St. Louis (60-49) has won 12 of 13 at Busch Stadium behind an offense that has averaged 6.0 runs per game and batted .316.
That stretch showed no sign of ending Monday, when the Cardinals collected 12 hits to beat three-time All-Star Matt Cain and the Giants 8-2 in the opener of this four-game set.
"It's great to play at home with the atmosphere here," manager Mike Matheny told the team's official website. "This is a team that enjoys playing at home. The atmosphere, the crowd is second to none, so that plays into our hands."
Partly due to that home success, the Cardinals are within 2 1/2 games of Pittsburgh in the wild-card chase and six behind NL Central-leading Cincinnati.
The Giants (59-50) are in a more favorable position, sitting atop the West but only by one-half game over Los Angeles. That lead nearly became a deficit Monday, but the Dodgers fell 2-0 to Colorado.
Giving the ball to Lynn (13-4, 3.40 ERA) may keep the Cardinals surging, while potentially damaging San Francisco's status as division leader.
Lynn is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last five starts, allowing two runs or fewer in four including Thursday's 8-2 loss at Colorado. The right-hander did his part, giving up two runs in six innings before the bullpen was tagged for six runs over the next two.
Lynn has put together a strong stretch at home, winning four of his past five starts behind a 2.67 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 30 1-3 innings. He's thrown 12 scoreless innings to win his last two outings at Busch.
He did, however, struggle in his only appearance against the Giants, allowing five runs over 5 1-3 innings of a 12-7 home loss on June 2, 2011.
Jon Jay is looking to continue his own success at home, where he's hitting .367 this season compared to .217 on the road. The center fielder matched his career high set last month with four hits while driving in two runs Monday.
Jay has a career average of .467 in eight home meetings with the Giants.
Monday's loss ended a three-game win streak for San Francisco, which scored 35 runs during that run.
Buster Posey continued his torrid pace with two hits and an RBI. He's batting .468 with six homers and 25 RBIs in his last 19 games, and is 10 for 19 while connecting for three home runs and driving in eight in the first four of this seven-game road trip.
Posey has a .387 average in eight games against St. Louis, but is facing Lynn for the first time.
Barry Zito (8-8, 4.27) might need continued production from Posey after going 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA in his last three starts.
The left-hander struggled again Thursday, surrendering seven runs and six hits with three walks in 4 1-3 innings of a 9-1 loss to New York.
Zito is 1-6 with a 5.23 ERA in eight starts against the Cardinals, losing all three decisions in four games at St. Louis with a 9.00 ERA.
|San Francisco Giants|
|July 31, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Strained right knee|
|July 25, 2012||Pablo Sandoval||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|July 18, 2012||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 18, 2012||Hector Sanchez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|July 17, 2012||Hector Sanchez||Day-to-Day||Left knee sprain|
|June 26, 2012||Shane Loux||15-Day DL||Strained neck|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|August 03, 2012||Lance Berkman||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|July 28, 2012||Rafael Furcal||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|July 26, 2012||David Freese||Day-to-Day||Left game - right calf cramp|
|July 24, 2012||Lance Berkman||Day-to-Day||Left game - HBP right knee|
|July 17, 2012||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left thigh|
|July 08, 2012||David Freese||Day-to-Day||Bruised left leg|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Buster Posey shows no signs of slowing down in the second half of the season.
The San Francisco catcher stayed hot with a three-run homer, and Barry Zito pitched 6 2-3 innings to make that stand up as the Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Posey leads the major leagues with a .448 batting average and 30 RBIs since the All-Star break, including 12 in his last six games. The home run stretched his hitting streak to 11 games.
Posey said he hasn't done anything differently since the break.
"I'm just trying to stay with a consistent approach," Posey said. "Have a plan when I go up to bat and keep it simple."
Joaquin Arias drove in the Giants' other run with an RBI double. Melky Cabrera also doubled for San Francisco, giving him a major league-leading 152 hits.
Posey gave the Giants all the runs they would need in the first inning. Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro began the game with back-to-back singles, and after Cabrera hit into a fielder's choice, Posey launched a 417-foot shot to center field for his 18th home run and a 3-0 Giants advantage.
"It's always nice to get on the board early," Posey said. "I was fortunate to get something out over the plate and get the barrel on it, and it went out for me."
Zito (9-8) allowed two solo home runs by Allen Craig . Zito gave up eight hits overall with four strikeouts and no walks.
"I was going to come out here looking to be aggressive. That was my game plan," Zito said. "When we went up three in the first, it's even more important to come out throwing strikes."
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy appreciated Zito's effort.
"He pitched a great game," Bochy said. "He gave up a couple of home runs to a good hitter, but he didn't let that faze him at all."
Jeremy Affeldt got the last four outs for his third save in four chances.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn (13-5) allowed four runs and eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts in six innings.
"He had to fight all night," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It didn't come easy for him. (He had) a little trouble putting guys away and it ended up costing him in the first."
After that first inning, Lynn settled down but it was too late.
"One pitch cost me the game," Lynn said. "I wasn't trying to give him anything to hit there. It was just a bad pitch."
NOTES: Carlos Beltran extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning double. ... Ryan Vogelsong (9-5) will face Cardinals rookie Joe Kelly (2-4) in the third game of the four-game set on Wednesday. ... Pagan, who also had a walk, has been on base 14 times in his last 25 plate appearances. ... San Francisco has hit 51 of its 71 homers on the road (72 percent), including eight on its current road trip.