Cardinals-Dodgers Preview

A matchup between the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn and the Dodgers’ Ted

Lilly doesn’t immediately scream pitchers’ duel, but they’re both

throwing like aces these days.

Runs could be hard to come Friday night at Dodger Stadium when

Lynn and Lilly square off to open a series between division

leaders.

Lynn (6-1, 1.81 ERA) earned a spot in St. Louis’ starting

rotation only because 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter

is on the disabled list, but he has taken full advantage of his

opportunity. His ERA is third-best in the majors and his .171

opponent batting average ranks second. Lilly (5-0, 2.11),

meanwhile, is limiting opposing hitters to a .172 average.

Like Lynn, Lilly isn’t the most prominent pitcher in his team’s

rotation – that would be reigning NL Cy Young award winner Clayton

Kershaw – but he has been outstanding in his own right, ranking

eighth in the majors in both ERA and WHIP (0.97).

Despite the sensational starts, Lilly and Lynn are coming off

their respective worst showings of the season.

After posting a 1.41 ERA in his first five starts for the

Dodgers (25-13), Lilly permitted five runs and six hits in 6 1-3

innings against Colorado on Sunday, but received plenty of run

support and emerged with an 11-5 victory. The 14-year veteran’s

winning streak is now up to eight dating to last season, and he is

trying to become the first Dodgers starting pitcher to open 6-0

since Kazuhisa Ishii in 2002.

Although Lilly has pitched in the NL for the last half-dozen

years, he hasn’t faced the Cardinals (22-16) since 2009, while

playing for the Cubs. The left-hander is 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA in his

last eight starts versus St. Louis.

Lynn yielded a season-high three runs – all on Jason Heyward’s

bases-clearing double in the third – and four hits in six innings

of Sunday’s 7-4 loss to Atlanta. The right-hander has never faced

Los Angeles and, after Friday, he’ll still never have faced Matt

Kemp, who is on the DL with a strained left hamstring. However, the

Dodgers proved they can still generate offense without their No. 3

hitter in Thursday’s 8-1 win over San Diego.

“We just seemed to have more energy (Thursday),” Don Mattingly

said of his team, which had totaled three runs while losing its

first two games without Kemp.

Every Dodgers regular except leadoff batter Dee Gordon had at

least one hit Thursday, and Gordon had a sacrifice fly. Andre

Ethier had two hits and drove in his NL-leading 35th run, and could

be poised for another big game. He has hit safely in 12 straight

home games against the Cardinals, batting .468 with eight

doubles.

St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran ranks second in the NL with 32 RBIs,

but has not started in the last four games because of a right knee

injury. It is uncertain if Beltran, who hit .360 with two homers in

seven games at Dodger Stadium last season, will be in the starting

lineup for the series opener.

The Cardinals arrive in Southern California after suffering a

7-5 loss to San Francisco on Thursday, their fifth defeat in seven

games. St. Louis owns a 2 1/2-game Central lead despite the

slump.

Los Angeles, owner of baseball’s best record, won the final four

games of last season’s series with St. Louis after losing the

previous seven meetings between the clubs dating to 2010.