Cardinals strike for four in fourth to top Cubs

Sunday, April 15, 2012
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina celebrates his two-run single during the fourth inning Saturday in St. Louis. (TOM GANNAM ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Lance Lynn is making the most of a surprise opportunity.

Lynn pitched effectively into the sixth inning and Yadier Molina had two hits and two RBIs to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

The Cardinals snapped a two-game skid with their fourth win in six games. Chicago, which lost five of its first six, had won two in a row.

Lynn (2-0) gave up four hits and one run over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five, walked two and lowered his ERA to 1.50 in a game delayed almost two hours by rain.

Lynn, the 39th overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft, allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings in his first start this season, a 9-3 win at Milwaukee on Sunday. He began the year with a 1-1 career mark.

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina (4) gets a hug from former manager Tony La Russa after receiving his 2011 World Series championship ring before a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, April 14, 2012 in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Lynn gained a spot in the rotation when Chris Carpenter was put on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury before the start of the season. The husky, 6-foot-5 Lynn, who originally was headed to the bullpen, is enjoying his time as a starter.

"I'm just going to try and do what I'm capable of and not try to do too much," he said. "Just make pitches and try not to give up runs."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has been very pleased with Lynn's first two efforts, especially Saturday's performance.

"I thought he was very good," Matheny said. "He's just got good movement on his fastball. Obviously he's got some velocity on it. We all have high expectations."

Lynn set down Chicago in order in three of the first four innings. He gave up just two hits over the first five innings before tiring in the sixth.

St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith, left, and Bruce Sutter examine their 2011 World Series championship ring before a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, April 14, 2012 in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

"He's a big guy, a strike-thrower," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "You don't get many guys on against him. We really couldn't get anything going."

Jon Jay hit his second home run of the season in the seventh off Shawn Camp.

The Cardinals broke open a scoreless game with four runs in the fourth off Chris Volstad (0-1). Molina brought in Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter with a single up the middle. Daniel Descalso had an RBI triple, and Tyler Greene added an RBI single.

Carpenter, who was filling in for Lance Berkman at first base, had the key hit in the inning. He smashed a 3-2 pitch off the top of the wall in right. The drive put runners on second and third with one out.

"Biggest pitch of the inning," Volstad said.

Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker shakes hands with his teammates after receiving his 2011 World Series championship ring before Saturday's game in St. Louis. (TOM GANNAM ~ Associated Press)

Berkman has a strained left calf and is day to day. Carpenter is hitting .278 with five RBIs.

"Obviously we need Lance to get healthy, but until he does, hopefully I can get the job done," Carpenter said. "I just want to have good, positive at-bats and play good defense."

Chicago finally scored in the sixth on Starlin Castro's RBI single. J.C. Romero relieved Lynn and struck out Ian Stewart and Bryan LaHair to end the threat.

But the St. Louis bullpen allowed just two hits over the final three innings. Romero turned in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Fernando Salas and Marc Rzepczynski pitched the eighth. Jason Motte retired the side on seven pitches in the ninth.

"Everybody threw well and it was a win, so you've got to be happy," Lynn said.

Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn delivers during the first inning Saturday.

The Cardinals were without World Series MVP David Freese. The third baseman was scratched before the game with soreness in a finger on his right hand.

"He could have gone," Matheny said. "He felt something weak in his hand. We're going to keep a close eye on it."

Freese, who is day to day, got hurt in an at-bat in Friday's home opener.

Noteworthy

* The Cardinals held a pregame ceremony to present World Series rings to players and coaches.

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