The St. Louis Cardinals have the best record in baseball, though Lance Lynn 's recent struggles have helped prevent that mark from being even more impressive.
He'll look to get back on track as St. Louis seeks to deal the visiting Philadelphia Phillies a fifth consecutive defeat in Thursday night's series finale.
St. Louis (61-37) leads Pittsburgh by 1 1/2 games atop the NL Central and has won six of eight after Wednesday's 11-3 victory. Yadier Molina had three hits to improve his NL-best batting average to .339.
He narrowly leads teammate Allen Craig , who is hitting .337 after going 2 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to nine. Craig has had a least a hit in 26 of his last 28 games and is batting .429 over his last 19.
Matt Adams added two hits and three RBIs on Wednesday."I try to see the ball as long as I can and just battle," Adams said. "I just dial in my focus more."
Lynn (11-5, 4.13 ERA) may want to do the same, as the Cardinals' only defeats during their recent hot stretch have come when he's pitched.
The right-hander went 8-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 12 starts though June 3, but he's just 3-4 with a dismal 6.32 ERA over his last eight. He's lost four of his last five outings - all against sub-.500 clubs - after giving up four runs in five innings of a 5-3 loss to San Diego on Saturday."He's had a couple weird starts, and when those start to compound you've got to stop and regroup," manager Mike Matheny said. "It didn't look like he was able to do that."
While Lynn has acknowledged his struggles, he also believes some unlucky occurrences have contributed to his rough stretch."When you look at the runs I gave up (Saturday), they were tough runs to give up," Lynn said. "When you make a pitch and it's a broken-bat hit to the third baseman, it's tough. When you get a nubber back to you and he gets a hit, that's tough. That's kind of the stretch I'm in right now."
Lynn was going just fine versus the Phillies on April 20 when he allowed one hit - a John Mayberry double in the fifth - while striking out eight in seven innings of a 5-0 win.
Philadelphia (49-52) has lost four of six meetings with St. Louis and is on the verge of a matching its worst losing streak of the season. Mayberry had two hits for the Phillies, who have scored only eight runs during their skid.
Kyle Kendrick will take the mound looking to end some struggles of his own.
Kendrick (9-6, 3.94) went 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA in seven starts from April 10-May 12, including giving up two runs in six innings of a 7-3 win over the Cardinals on April 21. He hasn't been nearly as good since that stretch, going 5-5 with a 5.00 ERA over his last 12 outings.
The right-hander gave up six runs in 5 2-3 innings Friday but got enough run support to earn a 13-8 win over the New York Mets .
Kendrick, though, is 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA in seven career starts against St. Louis.
|July 24, 2013||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Concussion|
|July 14, 2013||Joe Savery||15-Day DL||Left elbow stiffness|
|July 14, 2013||Ben Revere||15-Day DL||Broken right foot - out 6-8 weeks|
|July 13, 2013||Ben Revere||Day-to-Day||Broken right foot|
|July 06, 2013||Ryan Howard||15-Day DL||Left knee inflammation|
|June 24, 2013||Ryan Howard||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|July 11, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring|
|July 02, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck/back|
|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|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Lance Lynn knew from the first pitch on Thursday that his recent struggles were over for at least one game.
The St. Louis right-hander bounced back from a frustrating stretch to allow one run over seven innings and the Cardinals scored three times in the third inning of a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies .
Matt Carpenter , Jon Jay and Matt Adams drove in runs for the Cardinals, who have won seven of nine.
Philadelphia has lost five in a row, tying a season high. The Phillies also dropped five straight from June 7-12.
St. Louis, which swept the three-game set, has the most wins in the majors at 62 and is a season-high 25 games over .500.
Lynn (12-5) had dropped four of his previous five decisions and was 3-4 with a 6.32 ERA in his past eight starts.
"I knew I had to be a lot better than I had been," Lynn said. "It was bad."
Lynn came out against the Phillies with an aggressive mindset, which paid immediate dividends. He realized quickly that he had rediscovered his early season groove.
"I had good stuff early on and I could feel it," Lynn said. "I knew I had it from the get-go. I was able to attack with my fastball and able to get into a rhythm."
Lynn, who was 8-1 with a 2.76 ERA in his first 12 starts, gave up just five hits against the slumping Phillies, who have scored just nine runs during the five-game skid. He struck out six and walked four.
Lynn's turnaround came at a perfect time. St. Louis is set to embark on an 11-game road swing beginning Friday in Atlanta.
Lynn, whose last win came on July 7, retired eight batters in a row from the fourth through seventh innings. He set the side down in order in the fifth and sixth on a combined 23 pitches.
"That's what we've been hoping to see," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "He kept his focus and he still maintained his energy. He had impressive depth to his sinker."
Closer Edward Mujica picked up his 30th save in 32 opportunities. He struck out two and is tied with Pittsburgh's Jason Grilli for the most saves in the NL. Trevor Rosenthal pitched a scoreless eighth for the Cardinals.
Mujica, who converted his first 21 save opportunities this season, needed to 14 pitches to nail down the victory.
"At the beginning of the season, they gave me the ball in the seventh inning," Mujica said. "I never thought about being a closer. This is unbelievable for me."
St. Louis scored three times on four hits off Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick (9-7) in the third.
Carpenter drove in Pete Kozma with a one-out single. Jay followed with an RBI triple and Adams added a run-scoring single.
St. Louis, which leads Pittsburgh by 2 1/2 games in the NL Central, won five of six games on its homestand.
"You show up every day wanting to play and you end up with good results," Carpenter said. "This was a big day for us."
Kendrick allowed three runs and five hits over six innings. He gave up just one hit in five of the innings, but the third inning was costly.
"One bad inning can lose a game for you," Kendrick said. "It was a quality start, but I had to pitch than that tonight and I didn't do it."
Erik Kratz drove in the Phillies' run with a single in the fourth.
Philadelphia outfielder Steve Susdorf grounded into a double play in the seventh in his major league debut. He was recalled earlier in the day to replace Domonic Brown , who was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
The Phillies, who fell to 9-19 against NL Central foes, remain eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East.
"At times, we have trouble putting anything on the board," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "We got some hits, but we didn't have any real good chances."
Notes: St. Louis OF Matt Holliday is expected to come off the disabled list on Saturday. Holliday's wife Leslee gave birth to a son, Reid Joshua, on Wednesday night. Holliday was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 12 with a right hamstring strain. ... The Cardinals open their lengthy road trip with three in Atlanta. Adam Wainwright (13-5, 2.44) will face Mike Minor (9-5, 2.88) in the opener of a three-game series. Philadelphia begins a three-game series in Detroit on Friday. Cole Hamels (4-12, 4.16) takes on Doug Fister (8-5, 3.90) in the series opener. ... Allen Craig had a nine-game hitting streak snapped Thursday. ... Jimmy Rollins and John Mayberry Jr. had two hits each in the game.