Cardinals-Nationals Preview

Lance Lynn has made a habit of adding to his win column in his two-plus seasons as a starter for the St. Louis Cardinals, though he’s been given some leeway due to the amount of run support he’s received.

That’s just fine with manager Mike Matheny.

Visiting St. Louis looks to bounce back from a rare loss to the Washington Nationals as Lynn takes the mound Saturday.

Lynn (3-0, 4.00 ERA) has 36 victories since the start of 2012, tying him with teammate Adam Wainwright for the most in the NL in that span. He’s won each of his starts this season, with the Cardinals (10-7) providing him with an average of 7.00 runs.

The right-hander didn’t need much help Monday, though, as he gave up three hits and struck out 11 in seven innings of a 4-0 win over Milwaukee.

Lynn has won at least his first five decisions in each of the past two seasons.

"A guy who finds a way to win, to me, needs to be given a lot of credit because that’s the ultimate goal for us," Matheny said. "Whether you’re getting a lot of support or throwing a shutout, one way or another, you’re finding a way to get it done. Lance has done that."

Run support helped Lynn pick up a victory in his only start against the Nationals, as he gave up four runs and six hits – including homers to Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa – while hitting two batters in a 10-4 win Sept. 30, 2012. He’s 2-2 with a 9.28 ERA in six appearances versus Washington, including the postseason.

St. Louis was done in by a lack of offense for the second time in three games Friday, falling 3-1 to the Nationals (10-7) while having its eight-game winning streak, including the playoffs, against Washington snapped.

A season high-tying three errors didn’t help, with catcher Yadier Molina, winner of six straight Gold Gloves, making one and Matt Carpenter another that led to two unearned runs in the seventh.

The Nationals took whatever they could get after being two-hit by Wainwright in an 8-0 loss in the series opener Thursday.

”They’re a tremendous team. They’ve gotten the best of us in the past,” said Anthony Rendon, who hit a solo homer. ”We’re trying to change that.”

Gio Gonzalez retired the last 11 men he faced and became just the second Nationals starter to throw seven innings after Jordan Zimmermann did it in Monday’s 9-2 win over Miami.

Zimmermann (1-0, 5.27 ERA) will be on the mound Saturday after giving up two runs and striking out seven. His previous start marked the shortest of his career, as he allowed five runs in 1 2-3 innings before the Nationals rallied for a 10-7 victory over the Marlins on April 9.

”It was a lot better,” Zimmermann said. "When I’m able to get ahead, I can throw everything else where I want and when I want. When I fall behind, that’s when I run into trouble.”

The right-hander has struggled to do anything well when he faces the Cardinals, going 0-4 with an 8.83 ERA in seven starts, including the playoffs.

Molina is 8 for 16 and Jon Jay is 6 for 14 off Zimmermann.