Among the NL leaders in wins, Lance Lynn’s only loss surprisingly came against the lowly Chicago Cubs last month.
Getting the best of him again could prove difficult at Busch Stadium, where the St. Louis Cardinals continue to have their way with manager Dale Sveum’s club.
Lynn takes the mound opposite Scott Feldman as the major league-leading Cardinals go for a seventh home win in eight games against the Cubs in the conclusion of a four-game set Thursday night.
Averaging 9.21 strikeouts per nine innings to rank fifth in the NL, Lynn (9-1, 3.56 ERA) has been nearly unbeatable this year. His only blemish came May 7 in a 2-1 defeat at Wrigley Field, allowing a two-run homer to Nate Schierholtz – one of just four hits – while striking out eight in seven innings.
“You look back at it, you gave up two runs on one swing,” said Lynn, who dropped to 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA in five starts versus Chicago. “I got behind him and made him hit it and he put a good swing on it so you tip your cap there, but for the most part I threw the ball well. That was only one I wanted back.”
Although the Cardinals’ offense failed to come through that day, Lynn was fortunate to walk away with a win in Saturday’s 13-7 victory at Miami. The right-hander gave up a career-high seven runs and season-worst nine hits over five innings
“It was a bad day,” said Lynn, whose run support average of 7.22 ranks highest in the league. “I was fighting it the whole time. I only had one pitch, the fastball. When I threw it they got hits, and I wasn’t able to get other pitches over for strikes.”
Leading the NL in runs (359), average (.276), and on-base percentage (.336), St. Louis (46-26) has taken six of seven and 15 of 20 from the Cubs (29-41) at home. The Cardinals came through again in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory.
Jake Westbrook threw seven sharp innings and Yadier Molina hit a two-run homer as St. Louis improved to 16-8 at home since April 30.
Molina is batting .449 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in his last 24 games.
“With the way he’s been hitting, but more importantly the way he’s handled us as a staff and the way we’ve been pitching,” Westbrook said of Molina, whom he believes is deserving of MVP consideration. “He, in my mind, is the reason for that.”
The Cardinals will try to stay hot against Feldman (6-5, 3.05), who allowed two hits and struck out six over seven innings of one-run ball in Saturday’s 5-2 road win over the New York Mets.
“His cutter seems to be harder, and it seems like (it has) a few more inches of movement,” Sveum told MLB’s official website. “He’s able to stick to the game plan so well, he can pitch down and away to stay away from slugging – which he did very well for the most part.”
Feldman has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all but two of his last 12 starts.
“He knows how to pitch,” Mets third baseman David Wright said of the right-hander, who has never started against St. Louis.
The Cubs have hit .173 in dropping three of four. Starlin Castro, who’s hitless in his last eight at-bats, has gone 11 for his last 81 (.136) with 19 strikeouts.