Lynn stymies D-backs with quartet of twin killings

Lynn stymies D-backs with quartet of twin killings

PHOENIX -- Often one to rely more on power than placement, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn on Monday night became the first Cardinals pitcher in more than four years to record four double plays in an outing.

Lynn made his bundle of twin killings timely, too, as three ended innings and two rescued him from bases-loaded jams in a game the Cardinals would eventually win, 5-3, over Arizona. Lynn pitched the first six innings and picked up his 10th victory.

"When he needed it, it was there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Those are just great pitches in tough situations. He had that little extra movement when he needed it."

Lynn entered the night having induced seven double plays in 134 2/3 season innings and never having tallied more than two in any of his 120 career starts. But he'd need the two-for-one bundle of outs as he pitched almost the entire game out of the stretch. Lynn allowed nine hits, walked two and also had to deal with the mess created by a pair of Greg Garcia errors.

Beginning in the third, however, he closed three straight innings with a double play. A.J. Pollock grounded into the first, increasing his team-high total to 15. It came on a cutter, the same pitch Lyn would use to get a double play off Welington Castillo's bat with none out in the sixth.

The cutter, which, according to fangraphs.com, accounts for 11 percent of the pitches Lynn has thrown this year, was effective all night. Those two double plays sandwiched the two most critical, which both came off sinkers.

"I was able to mix it up between those and the four-seamer," Lynn said. "I was getting a lot of ground balls and at the right time, the double-play ball. That was good."

After walking Jake Lamb to load the bases in the fourth, Lynn got just what he needed as Hill bounced a ball that Matt Carpenter nabbed while stepping on third. Carpenter threw to first to end the threat and preserve a tie game. An inning later, National League MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt had his chance with the bases full. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta started that inning-ending double play.

"I hit into a double play, killed the momentum and may have cost us the game," Goldschmidt said.

Added Lynn: "Any time you can get the three-hole hitter out with the bases loaded and get two outs out of it, it's a big situation."

Lynn's four double plays were the most initiated by a Cards starter since Chris Carpenter had that many in an August 2011 win against the Brewers. The team's previous high this season had been three, twice achieved by Jaime Garcia and once by Carlos Martinez.

The D-backs entered the night having grounded into 93 double plays, tied for seventh-most in the NL.

"We had our chances," Arizona manager Chip Hale said. "You also have to give the pitcher credit. He made good pitches, Molina called good pitches and they took advantage of us maybe being a little too aggressive."

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