MILWAUKEE -- Very quietly, Lance Lynn has put his difficult August in the rear-view mirror and started to turn things around as the St. Louis Cardinals close in on a third consecutive postseason berth.
Lynn took another step in the right direction on Saturday night, striking out seven in St. Louis' 7-2 victory over Milwaukee at Miller Park.
After going 1-4 with a 5.84 ERA in six August starts, Lynn is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA through six September starts and has held opponents to three earned runs in 18 2/3 innings in his last three.
"Those were just some freakish things that happened and we all start thinking about it too much," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Lynn's struggles. "He's stayed focused and when things go in a bad direction he gets locked back into his pitch and that's going to be the key for him."
He appeared to be in trouble early, loading the bases with a double, a single and a walk. Milwaukee got a run on Khris Davis' groundout to third but was shut down after that as Lynn retired 17 of his last 21 batters.
"It took me an inning or so to get in a groove. I was able to rebound and work deep in the game," Lynn said. "I was able to throw (the fastball) where I wanted to both sides of the plate."
Matt Adams staked Lynn to an early lead with a two-run homer, his second home run in as many games.
Since Allen Craig, the Cardinals' regular first baseman, went down with a foot injury on Sept. 4, Adams has seven home runs and 14 RBIs.
"It's fun to watch him right now," Matheny said. "You look at the situation we're in -- not just losing our first baseman but also our cleanup hitter -- and we put a young kid in there that's able to handle it well and get some big hits for us. Even though he's had some things bothering him a little bit, he's growing as a player and growing as a hitter."
Adams finished the day 2-for-4 and is batting .455 (10-for-22) on the Cardinals' current road trip.
"This everyday stuff, the club is missing Allen," Adams said. "We're hoping that he gets back, being able to play as soon as possible, but I am just trying to take full opportunity of this and make the most of it."
St. Louis broke open the game with a five-run eighth against the Brewers' bullpen.
Rob Wooten struck out Matt Carpenter but allowed three consecutive singles to Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Adams then walked Yadier Molina to make it a 3-1 game.
He struck out Jon Jay but allowed a two-run single to David Freese before giving way to Alfredo Figaro.
Figaro didn't fare much better, serving up a two-run double to Daniel Descalso before ending the inning on Adron Chambers' fly to right.
Milwaukee added a run in the seventh but couldn't get any closer, spoiling what had been a good start by right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
Gallardo (11-10) recovered from Adams' home run and kept St. Louis off the board for the rest of his seven-inning start, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out seven.
"Obviously, you want to finish off the year strong," Gallardo said. "You want to end on a positive note, and ever since I've came off the DL I think things have been falling into place. Unfortunately, my last start was rough one, but I had to move past that and keep going until the last game of the season."
Scooter Gennett and Jonathan Lucroy had two hits each and scored the Brewers' only runs.
The victory preserved St. Louis' two-game lead over Pittsburgh in the National League Central. The Pirates began the day tied with Cincinnati but beat the Reds 4-2 Saturday at PNC Park to move into sole possession of second place.
The Cardinals can clinch a playoff spot with one more victory or a loss by Washington.
NOTES: Cardinals RHP Edward Mujica was not available after pitching in each of the last three games. After posting a 1.73 ERA through August, Mujica has allowed seven runs in 6 2/3 innings in September. ... Brewers SS Jean Segura's strained hamstring was feeling better but not well enough for Segura to return to the starting lineup. ... Cardinals 1B Allen Craig will be re-evaluated next week but will probably not return by the end of the season, general manager John Mozeliak said. ... LHP Tom Gorzelanny played catch on Saturday but still isn't ready to return to action for the Brewers, manager Ron Roenicke said. Gorzelanny hasn't pitched since Sept. 2, when he threw only two pitches before leaving the game with shoulder tightness.