Few pitchers have proven more difficult to take deep this season than Lance Lynn.
Lynn (14-8, 2.78 ERA) has gone 6-2 with a 1.73 ERA in nine starts since surrendering a season-high six earned runs in a 9-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 28. He's also won three straight outings after holding Cincinnati to four hits over seven scoreless innings in a 7-3 victory on Wednesday. Lynn appeared to be on track for his second complete game of the season but didn't come out for the eighth after a 58-minute rain delay.
The right-hander has allowed just three home runs in 128 2-3 innings over his last 21 starts and his 0.40 home runs allowed per nine innings is the second lowest rate in the NL behind teammate Adam Wainwright.
He split two meetings with Pittsburgh earlier this season, allowing two runs in 6 2-3 innings in a 5-2 home win on July 9 after giving up four runs in six innings of a 4-3 road loss on May 10.
St. Louis (71-59) opened the three-game series with a 3-2 victory Monday. Matt Holliday put the Cardinals ahead with a two-run, two-out single in the seventh. They had been shut out prior to Jon Jay's pinch-hit RBI single one at-bat earlier.
Meanwhile, John Lackey limited the Pirates to one run in seven innings.
"I think guys know when we have a pitcher like Lackey on the mound, he's going to keep us in the game," manager Mike Matheny said. "We've just got to keep fighting and figure out a way to get something going."
Holliday has eight RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak and 20 RBIs in his last 25 versus Pittsburgh. Jay has hit .465 over his last 15 games overall.
Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen drove in Pittsburgh's only runs with solo homers in the second and ninth innings, respectively. Nine home runs have accounted for 15 of the 23 runs over the last four games for the Pirates (67-64). McCutchen is responsible for three of those shots, however he's homerless against Lynn, going 4 for 29 with 11 strikeouts.
Gerrit Cole (7-4, 3.69) looks to build off a strong showing in his first start for Pittsburgh since being sidelined by a sore lat. Cole threw seven innings and gave up two runs in the Pirates' 3-2 win over Atlanta on Wednesday, though he left without a decision. The right-hander retired 12 straight at one point.
"He had four pitches to go to tonight, very efficient work," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Really good to see him out on the mound."
Facing the Cardinals should put Cole at ease considering his performances in two games against them this year. He gave up three runs in 14 innings, though he split the decisions.
Holliday and Matt Carpenter are a combined 8 for 13 against Cole compared to all other current Cardinals hitters going 6 for 40.