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Cards' Lyons beats Padres in major league debut

The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- Tyler Lyons became the latest young pitcher to impress in the St. Louis Cardinals' youth movement.

Lyons threw seven effective innings in his major league debut, and the Cardinals recorded a 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night at Petco Park.

"It was everything I could ask for," Lyons said of his successful outing, which also included his first big-league hit, a single in the sixth. "I think having the ability to throw my sinker for a strike a lot helped keep my pitch count down and helped me get a lot of ground balls early in the count. That obviously helps you get through innings."

Lyons (1-0) allowed a run on four hits and a walk while striking out four. He threw 81 pitches. He lost his bid for a shutout in the seventh inning when rookie Jedd Gyorko led off by hitting a booming home run, estimated at 438 feet, to straightaway center. It was Gyorko's fifth homer of the season.

"He got every bit of it," said Lyons, who became the first Cardinals starter since Greg Matthews on June 3, 1986, to earn the win and allow one run or none while pitching seven or more innings in his big-league debut.

The homer was the only blemish for the 25-year-old left-hander, a ninth-round selection in the 2010 draft out of Oklahoma State.

"That was a great job, and we really needed it," said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny, who also credited catcher Yadier Molina with Lyons' strong performance. "'Yaddy' did a nice job as always. I think (Molina) is a nice comfort factor for these young pitchers."

Lyons is the sixth rookie pitcher to make an impact this season for the Cardinals, joining Shelby Miller, Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, John Gast and Trevor Rosenthal, who have combined for 11 wins.

"He had good movement and he commanded his pitches well," Gyorko said of Lyons. "They have some power arms, then they come back with the softer lefty (Lyons) who has some pretty good stuff."

San Diego rookie Burch Smith had an awful outing, one that probably will result in his ticket being punched back to the minors. Smith (0-1) was tagged for four runs on five hits and three walks in one-plus inning. After throwing 42 pitches and failing to record an out in the second, he was replaced by Tim Stauffer.

"It looked as though he might have tried a little bit too hard, tried to be too fine," San Diego manager Bud Black said of Smith. "He's a good young pitcher. He's got a good arm. I think he's going to have a fine career moving along, but I think it's time for him to go back (to the minors) and reassess what happened here and continue to grow as a pitcher."

The Cardinals (30-16) took two of three in the series from the Padres (21-25). Molina went 4-for-5 with an RBI, equaling his career high of four hits. Carlos Beltran had three hits, while Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso each drove in a run.

The Cardinals sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning and produced three runs. Holliday opened the scoring with one out when his drive to right field just missed going out, bouncing off the wall for a triple that knocked in Matt Carpenter. Holliday scored on a single to left by Craig, and Craig came home on a double to right by Descalso with two outs.

Second-inning singles by Carpenter and Beltran chased Smith, who was making his third major league start after being promoted from Double-A San Antonio on May 11. St. Louis increased the margin to 4-0 when Carpenter scored on Holliday's double-play groundout.

In the fifth, Molina singled to drive in Beltran for a 5-0 advantage.

San Diego scored two runs in the ninth off Cardinals closer Edward Mujica, who entered in a non-save situation.

NOTES: St. Louis 3B David Freese missed his third game in a row due to a cut near the base of his injured right thumb, suffered in Sunday's win over Milwaukee. Manager Mike Matheny said Freese will have the stitches removed Friday and could play in the opening game of a three-game series with the Dodgers in Los Angeles. ... The Cardinals activated Lyons before the game and placed RHP Fernando Salas on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to May 21) with a right shoulder strain. ... Padres LF Carlos Quentin missed his second consecutive game with a sore left knee after injuring it during an awkward slide at home plate Monday. Quentin received an injection in the knee Tuesday. With an off day Thursday, Quentin could return Friday for the beginning of a three-game set at Arizona. ... San Diego Chargers wide receiver Danario Alexander threw out the first pitch.
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