Lynn, Cards continue winning ways at Houston

Lance Lynn continued his rotation resurgence with seven one-run innings Monday night at Minute Maid Park.



The Cardinals' magic number shrank to six for securing a wild-card spot when they beat Houston 6-1 on Monday night. That they are in this position is largely because they have beaten the lowly Astros four straight times in the last week and nine times in a row overall.


Right-hander Lance Lynn, looking like the All-Star he was in the first half of the season before he was dispatched to the bullpen for nearly three weeks, pitched around some early trouble and posted his third straight win. After going seven innings and giving up just one run, Lynn is tied for the staff lead in wins at 17 and has given up only two runs in his last 19 1/3 innings.


In the second inning, Lynn allowed two of the five hits he permitted and also saw Houston catcher Jason Castro reach base after a strikeout and wild pitch. Castro ultimately scored the Astros' only run.


"It was a little tough that one inning," said catcher Yadier Molina. "But he found his way."


Molina again displayed his toughness. After suffering back spasms when trying to avoid a pitch on Saturday and sitting out Sunday's game in Chicago, Molina returned to the lineup and cracked his 21st home run.


"He amazes me," said manager Mike Matheny. "He heals good."


Then, Matheny smiled and said, "He lies really good about what he's really feeling like. He has a pain tolerance that's pretty impressive."


Left fielder Matt Holliday, who had to come out of Sunday's game because of back issues, fanned three times as he appeared to be jabbing at the ball but then delivered a two-run single in the seventh inning. Oddly, Holliday's hit was the only one in 19 at-bats from the top four hitters in the lineup -- Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, Holliday and Allen Craig.


The Nos. 5 through 8 hitters -- Molina, Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma -- were 8 for 13. Kozma hit his second homer in two days in the second inning and Descalso hit his club-high sixth triple and scored in the same inning.



3B David Freese was out of Monday's game basically before he was in it. Freese's name was on the lineup card handed to the umpires, but manager Mike Matheny did not know yet that Freese had suffered a sprained right ankle while exercising in the indoor batting cage. Freese, who has had surgeries on both ankles, felt enough pain for him to have X-rays, but results were negative. Still, he will be out a few days. Matheny said, "Anytime missed is not good for him."

INF/OF Matt Carpenter stepped in for injured 3B David Freese (right ankle sprain) and had two singles and a walk. The versatile Carpenter had had two hits as the right fielder the day before.

CF Jon Jay made another highlight-reel catch. He froze for a moment on Houston C Jason Castro's liner in the fourth inning before leaping to make a play. The ball glanced on his glove, but as Jay tumbled to the ground, he kept the ball alive in his bare hand, lost his grip and then snatched it back with his bare hand as he fell onto his back. "The catches he makes continue to make you notice him," said manager Mike Matheny.

RHP Lance Lynn's 6-1 win over Houston on Monday raised the Cardinals' record to 20-8 in his starts. He is 17-7.

By the Numbers:

0 - Errors this season by CF Jon Jay, a Gold Glove candidate.

Quote to Note:

"I see him with a whole different demeanor."

- Manager Mike Matheny on RHP Lance Lynn, who has won three straight starts, giving up only two runs in 19 1/3 innings since he was sent to the bullpen for nearly three weeks.


RHP Jake Westbrook (strained right oblique) was injured Sept. 8, and he probably is out for the rest of the regular season. He encountered discomfort in a bullpen session Sept. 22 in Chicago and had to stop throwing.

LF Matt Holliday (back) came out of the Sept. 23 game in the ninth inning, but was back in the lineup the next day.

C Yadier Molina (back spasms) did not play Sept. 23 but was back in the lineup the next day.

1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) underwent additional surgery Sept. 14 and was thought to be out for the season, but he said he still wants to try to play.

SS Rafael Furcal (torn ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the knife, but as of Sept. 19 he still hadn't been able to do any baseball activities.

RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10.

Link to boxscore: St. Louis 6 at Houston 1

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