ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Cardinal manager Mike Matheny has regularly praised his team's focus and consistency in compiling Major League Baseball's best record.
Thursday night was yet another example of it.
In their last game before a 10-day, 11-game road trip that could define the remainder of their regular season, the Cardinals weren't caught looking ahead.
Lance Lynn bounced back from back-to-back losses by throwing seven solid innings Thursday night, and St. Louis finished a sweep of the slumping Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-1 win at sold-out Busch Stadium.
It was the 13th win in the last 18 games for the Cardinals (62-37), all against sub-.500 teams, and allowed them to expand their National League Central lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates to 2 1/2 games. Their next 15 games are against clubs with winning records, including the road trip's opener Friday night against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.
"It doesn't matter when you sweep someone, it's big," Lynn said. "It just so happens that we're on a long road trip with a lot of games in a lot of days. Every game is the biggest game of the year, so we're going to take it one day at a time."
Lynn (12-5) yielded five hits and one run, walking four and fanning six while moving within one of the National League lead in wins. He appeared to get stronger as the game progressed, retiring nine of his last 10 batters.
In doing so, Lynn worked much more quickly than he had at any point in the first four innings or during Saturday night's 5-3 loss to San Diego. That performance earned him a visit to Matheny's office for a talk about working quicker and displaying better body language on the mound.
"It looked from the side as though he had impressive depth to his sinker," Matheny said. "He was getting a lot of swings and misses out of it. He was working ahead in the count even early in the game, but he'd get to two strikes and not put guys away. For whatever reason, his stuff just got better later."
Trevor Rosenthal worked around Jimmy Rollins' leadoff single in the eighth, and Edward Mujica pitched the ninth for his 30th save, tying Pittsburgh's Jason Grilli for the NL lead.
Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick (9-7) allowed five hits and three runs over six innings. It was the fifth consecutive defeat for the Phillies (49-53), who stayed eight games back of Atlanta.
St. Louis broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning with three runs. Matt Carpenter lined a single to right, plating Pete Kozma from second, then scored on the next pitch when Jon Jay ripped a triple to right-center. Matt Adams' RBI single capped the rally.
"One big inning usually gets you beat," Kendrick lamented. "I left some pitches over the plate and they took some good, aggressive swings. We're going through a rough patch right now, but we've still got faith. We've just got to win a game soon and go from there."
Philadelphia got a run back in the fourth on Erik Kratz's one-out single that scored Laynce Nix, but even that accomplishment was tinged with failure. With runners at first and second, Kendrick hit a 1-2 bunt back to the mound for a 1-5-4 double play that ended the inning.
The Phillies also put men at first and second in the first, but Delmon Young's liner was snared by Lynn, who whirled and doubled Michael Young off first to end the threat.
Lynn's final pitch turned into another unusual double play as he retired pinch-hitter Steve Susdorf on a 1-4-6-3 shot that deflected off him and to Matt Carpenter.
"Little things helped us win the game tonight," Matheny said. "Lance started three double plays and got two sacrifice bunts down. When you're not stacking hits and runs, you need to do the little things."
And because they did, the Cardinals head for a road trip that could be filled with a lot of big things.
NOTES: Philadelphia LF Domonic Brown was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list after being injured while diving for a Carlos Beltran triple in Tuesday night's 4-1 loss. The team recalled Susdorf from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he was hitting .335 with a homer and 25 RBIs, and moved LHP Jeremy Horst to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Susdorf on the 40-man roster ... St. Louis recalled LHP Marc Rzepczynski from Triple-A Memphis and optioned RHP Carlos Martinez back to Memphis. Rzepczynski was 1-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 32 games for the Redbirds after pitching poorly for the Cardinals in April. ... St. Louis also announced that rookie LHP John Gast (torn left lat muscle) will undergo surgery Friday and is lost for the year. Gast went 2-0 in three May starts, but he was injured May 25 at Dodger Stadium and hasn't pitched since.