Lynn, Beltran excel in Cardinals win over Phillies

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Lance Lynn got his edge back, and Carlos Beltran kept his groove going.

Beltran homered for the third straight game and Lynn allowed one hit in seven shutout innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night.

Lynn (3-0) struck out eight and walked three while surrendering only John Mayberry Jr.'s double to lead off the fifth. It was the fewest hits allowed in his career for Lynn, who extended his winning streak to eight games over the last two seasons.

However, the St. Louis right-hander was shaky in picking up his first two wins this season and entered Saturday having allowed nine runs on 17 hits in 15 innings. A switch in his demeanor helped Lynn shut down the slumping Philadelphia offense.

"He just had a whole different demeanor and a whole different disposition," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We talked about him going out there all the time with an edge and that's just how he pitches his best. He had a great mound presence, even when things didn't go well. He did a real nice job all the way around."

Said Lynn, "That's who I am and that's who I'm going to be and he's going to let me be that person and that's going to make it easier on me. I'm a better pitcher when I'm pitching with a chip on my shoulder."

The Cardinals helped Lynn with four runs in the third inning off Phillies starter Cliff Lee (2-1), along with Beltran's leadoff homer in the fifth.

"He's in a nice place right now," Matheny said of Beltran. "We hope to keep him there as long as we can."

Lee was unusually wild in his shortest outing in 21 starts, lasting five innings and giving up five runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts. The outing snapped a streak of 20 straight starts where Lee went at least six innings and surrendered one or zero walks.

"I struggled commanding the ball," Lee said. "I have to do a better job of commanding the strike zone. That's it in a nutshell."

As is often the case with Lee on the mound, the Phillies' offense did little to help. Entering Saturday, Lee ranked third from the bottom among all starters in the majors with a 3.34 run-support average since the start of the 2012 season.

Philadelphia finished with three total hits and 10 strikeouts off Lynn and relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Mitchell Boggs. Erik Kratz's bloop infield single just over the pitcher's mound in the eighth and Michael Young's single to left in the ninth were the only other hits for Philadelphia. The struggling Phillies offense has scored three runs or fewer in eight of the last nine games, going 3-6 in those contests.

Philadelphia was without slugger Ryan Howard, who didn't start for the second straight game with a groin injury. Howard is off to a slow start, as well, batting .274 with one homer, five RBI and 16 strikeouts in 62 at-bats.

"We've got to get Ryan Howard going," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of what's going to help his ailing offense. "He's the guy who hits the ball out of the park for us."

St. Louis had no problem producing off Lee.

Yadier Molina went 3-for-4 with an RBI for St. Louis.

The Cardinals battered Lee in the third inning when they took a 4-0 lead on two-out RBI hits by Allen Craig, Molina and David Freese. St. Louis also took advantage of Lee's rare wildness, drawing three walks in the frame.

Pete Kozma and Shane Robinson sandwiched walks around a Lynn strikeout. Lee looked primed to get out of the inning after getting Beltran to line out sharply to center, but he followed by walking Matt Holliday to load the bases.

Craig rapped a single to center to score Kozma and Robinson, and Molina and Freese followed with sharp singles to right that each scored a run.

"They've been able to grind through at-bats and that was really big for us and for Lance to be able to settle in a little bit," Matheny said. "We talk about grinding at-bats. That's really what should be said about our team as a whole. We just grind through and foul off the tough pitches and wait for the mistake."

Beltran led off the fifth with his fourth homer of the season and third in as many nights in Philadelphia, lifting St. Louis to a 5-0 lead.

Lynn did the rest.

"Once we got a big lead I didn't give them anything to get back in the game," he said. "They were able to get runs off (Lee). You have to make your pitches because this lineup has been known to get runs quick, so I was able to start making pitches after that and had some quicker innings after the game went on."

Manuel pinch-hit for Lee in the fifth, marking the shortest outing for the Phillies lefty since last June 29 when he went 4 2/3 innings in a 6-2 loss at Miami.

"He had the ball up most of the night," Manuel said. "He couldn't get a good feel on the fastball."

Freddy Galvis, making his third straight start in left field, opened the game with an excellent, leaping catch at the wall to rob Robinson of extra bases. Galvis played his first-ever game in the outfield on Thursday night, in place of injured Domonic Brown (back). Brown returned to the starting lineup on Saturday but shifted over to right field.

NOTES: Young extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Phillies 1B Howard (groin) didn't start for the second straight game. Howard was available to pinch-hit. Mayberry started in his place at first base. ... The last time Lee allowed three walks in a game was last June 24 in a 7-3 loss to Tampa Bay. ... The teams conclude the four-game series at 8:05 Sunday night, with Cardinals RHP Jake Westbrook (1-1, 0.00 ERA) scheduled to face Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick (1-1, 3.38 ERA).
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