Lynn gives Cards innings they sorely needed

Lynn gives Cards innings they sorely needed

ST. LOUIS -- Needing someone else to shoulder the innings that have lately landed on the bullpen, the Cardinals squeezed all they could from starter Lance Lynn on Sunday. Lynn responded not only with a deep start but with a performance that set the club up to steal a 2-1 win before the Tigers left town.

Lynn threw a season-high 119 pitches before exiting with two on and one out in the eighth with his club clinging to a one-run lead. Seth Maness ended that mess with one pitch, setting Lynn up to earn his third win and mitigating the effects of some questionable ball-strike calls earlier in the frame.

"That's what you really want from a guy who is taking charge of a staff," manager Mike Matheny said. "That's an outing where we need somebody to step up big, bow his neck and say, 'This is my game.' That's exactly what he did."

The Cardinals, already taxed by playing 36 games in 37 days, have been short on starter innings lately. It had been eight games since the club had pushed a starter into the seventh, and only twice during that span had the starter even finished six innings.

They know they have a workhorse in Lynn, who has thrown 200-plus innings each of the last two years, and needed him to live up to the label this time out. The need for innings, particularly from Lynn and John Lackey, is only further augmented as the Cards face a season without Adam Wainwright.

"I don't think there was a pitch count I was worried about tonight," Lynn acknowledged. "I just go out and pitch and do what I can. If [workhorse] is the label they want to give me, it's better than other things that could be said about me."

Lynn reined in that pitch count over the middle innings after using 72 to get through the first four. A seven-pitch seventh earned him the chance to return for the eighth, which would have been his to finish if not for consecutive one-out walks. It still ended up being his deepest start of the season.

"We were pushing him there," Matheny said. "That was higher in the pitch count than we normally see. and he had some intense, high-leverage innings that he pitched his way through. Everything was pointing to the fact that we could get him out, but once again, as we looked over the whole landscape, he was the best we had at that point."

Lynn had already worked around a leadoff single in the sixth by navigating through the heart of the Tigers' lineup. In the seventh, Matt Carpenter's grab in foul-territory left a runner stranded at third.

This was the sixth time in eight starts that Lynn exited having allowed one or fewer runs, and the sixth time he's eclipsed 100 pitches. He further highlighted his night with a game-tying single, giving the notoriously challenged hitter a staff-best three hits -- to which Lynn quipped, "It's early."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.