Getting the best of him again could prove difficult at Busch Stadium, where the St. Louis Cardinals continue to have their way with manager Dale Sveum 's club.
Lynn takes the mound opposite Scott Feldman as the major league-leading Cardinals go for a seventh home win in eight games against the Cubs in the conclusion of a four-game set Thursday night.
Averaging 9.21 strikeouts per nine innings to rank fifth in the NL, Lynn (9-1, 3.56 ERA) has been nearly unbeatable this year. His only blemish came May 7 in a 2-1 defeat at Wrigley Field, allowing a two-run homer to Nate Schierholtz - one of just four hits - while striking out eight in seven innings.
"You look back at it, you gave up two runs on one swing," said Lynn, who dropped to 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA in five starts versus Chicago. "I got behind him and made him hit it and he put a good swing on it so you tip your cap there, but for the most part I threw the ball well. That was only one I wanted back."
Although the Cardinals' offense failed to come through that day, Lynn was fortunate to walk away with a win in Saturday's 13-7 victory at Miami. The right-hander gave up a career-high seven runs and season-worst nine hits over five innings
"It was a bad day," said Lynn, whose run support average of 7.22 ranks highest in the league. "I was fighting it the whole time. I only had one pitch, the fastball. When I threw it they got hits, and I wasn't able to get other pitches over for strikes."
Leading the NL in runs (359), average (.276), and on-base percentage (.336), St. Louis (46-26) has taken six of seven and 15 of 20 from the Cubs (29-41) at home. The Cardinals came through again in Wednesday's 4-1 victory.
Molina is batting .449 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in his last 24 games.
"With the way he's been hitting, but more importantly the way he's handled us as a staff and the way we've been pitching," Westbrook said of Molina, whom he believes is deserving of MVP consideration. "He, in my mind, is the reason for that."
The Cardinals will try to stay hot against Feldman (6-5, 3.05), who allowed two hits and struck out six over seven innings of one-run ball in Saturday's 5-2 road win over the New York Mets .
"His cutter seems to be harder, and it seems like (it has) a few more inches of movement," Sveum told MLB's official website. "He's able to stick to the game plan so well, he can pitch down and away to stay away from slugging - which he did very well for the most part."
Feldman has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all but two of his last 12 starts.
"He knows how to pitch," Mets third baseman David Wright said of the right-hander, who's never started against St. Louis.
The Cubs have hit .173 in dropping three of four. Starlin Castro , who's hitless in his last eight at-bats, has gone 11 for his last 81 (.136) with 19 strikeouts.
|June 15, 2013||David DeJesus||15-Day DL||Right shoulder sprain|
|June 14, 2013||David DeJesus||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right shoulder|
|June 12, 2013||Zach Putnam||15-Day DL||Right elbow soreness|
|June 11, 2013||Zach Putnam||Day-to-Day||Left game - Undisclosed injury|
|May 27, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 27, 2013||Rafael Dolis||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|May 26, 2013||John Gast||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tightness|
|May 26, 2013||Carlos Beltran||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder soreness|
|May 25, 2013||John Gast||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shoulder tightness|
|May 21, 2013||Fernando Salas||15-Day DL||Right shoulder irritation|
|May 18, 2013||Jaime Garcia||60-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|May 09, 2013||Jake Westbrook||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Allen Craig was supposed to be getting a day off. He never put his feet up, stretched and yawned.
The St. Louis Cardinals' cleanup man made his first pinch-hit appearance of the season count in the go-ahead inning that paved the way for Lance Lynn 's 10th win of the season in a 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night.
"There's not much time," Craig said. "Things are going to have to align perfectly for that to happen and guys just kept getting on base. We had an opportunity to kind of push right through and it worked out well."
Matt Holliday homered and drove in two runs, while Yadier Molina batted fourth for the first time this season and walked twice with a double, raising his NL-leading average to .366.
Craig struggled a bit over the previous four games, going 2 for 11 with two RBIs, before coming through on a two-run single with the bases loaded against Hector Rondon during a four-run sixth.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had been thinking about stretching Lynn past 92 pitches with a few days off coming up, but couldn't pass up a chance to break it open with Craig, who leads the Cardinals with 55 RBIs.
"It was a great at-bat by Allen, to be able to stay sharp all game being in a situation he hasn't been in for a while," Matheny said. Great at-bat."
The Cardinals took three of four from the Cubs and lead the majors with a 47-26 record heading into a weekend interleague series against the Texas Rangers , the team they beat in the 2011 World Series.
Welington Castillo homered leading off the third for the Cubs, who left the bases loaded in the fifth when slumping Starlin Castro fouled out. They're 20-18 against NL teams outside their division, but just 9-24 against the Central.
"It's tough, man, but you know, I keep my mind positive," Castro said. "I can be out of this. I'll get 700-some at-bats and I've got 200 some at-bats now.
"I've got four months left, I'll be aggressive, let's see what happens."
Lynn (10-1) allowed a run on three hits in six innings with six strikeouts and has reached double digits in wins before the All-Star break both of his years in the rotation, going 11-4 last year and making the All-Star team. He joined teammate Adam Wainwright and Washington's Jordan Zimmermann for the league lead.
"Right now when I take the mound, they have all the confidence we're going to win," Lynn said. "And they show it from the way they play."
Lynn retired the side in order four times and is 5-1 against the Cubs, the lone loss coming last month at Wrigley Field. He's won nine in a row at Busch Stadium and bounced back after winning his ninth game the last time out despite allowing seven runs in five innings.
"He had a whole different disposition today and pitched with a lot of confidence," Matheny said. "You could tell he had a good feel for the ball."
Molina was 8 for 13 in the series with a homer and is 11 for 21 overall this season against Chicago with a homer and five RBIs. Holliday earned his first RBI in nine days.
Castro was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and is in an 11-for-85 slump that has dropped his average to .232.
"He's not the Lone Ranger in all this, you know," manager Dale Sveum said. "There's not a whole lot of hitting going on."
Castillo's second homer of the season and first since April 8 briefly tied it at 1 after David Freese 's run-scoring groundout off Scott Feldman (6-6) had given the Cardinals the lead. Matt Carpenter scored from second on Holliday's infield hit, a bouncer between third and short that Castro got his glove on but could not contain.
Feldman retired one of the four hitters he faced in the sixth, the lone out coming on center fielder Ryan Sweeney 's leaping catch at the wall to rob Matt Adams of a homer two at-bats after Holliday hit his 11th, also to straightaway center.
The Cardinals won consecutive games for the first time since June 6-7 after alternating wins and losses for nine games.
Notes: Rookie Tyler Lyons (2-3, 4.65) opposes the Rangers' Derek Holland (5-4, 3.30) Friday night. ... The Cubs' three-game series against the Astros is their lone home action in a stretch of 19 games with Matt Garza (1-1, 4.98) opposing Dallas Keuchel (4-3, 4.23). ... Cardinals starters lead the majors with 41 victories. ... Attendance was 175,840 for the four-game series, with the finale of 43,651 just shy of a sellout.