Lyons' relief work keeps Cards' 'pen fresh

Left-hander throws 3 2/3 innings after Martinez's exit

Lyons' relief work keeps Cards' 'pen fresh

ST. LOUIS -- It may not show in the box score of Friday's 4-2 loss to the Pirates, but Tyler Lyons' work out of the bullpen may have set the Cardinals up for future success.

Lyons came into the game in the top of the fourth after starter Carlos Martinez left due to fatigue from the lingering effects of a respiratory illness, and the situation was less than ideal.

The Pirates had the bases loaded, and Lyons inherited a 1-0 count to Josh Harrison. The left-hander struck out Harrison and Jordy Mercer to keep the Cardinals in the game.

"That game could have gotten out of control," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That's the long and short of it. It's set up that it could be a big big inning and tough to recover from. He did a terrific job."

Lyons, who allowed two earned runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Pirates, entered the game with an aggressive mindset.

"You've got to know the situation," Lyons said. "I knew it was a 1-0 count when I came in and just pretend that it's my ball."

Matheny credits Lyons and catcher Yadier Molina for recognizing the type of stuff Lyons had right away.

"There was something that he and Yadi saw in his off-speed pitches, that he felt good about because he came right out breaking ball, throwing the curve, throwing the slider, throwing the change, effective with the fastball," Matheny said.

More importantly, Lyons sustained that success for three more innings, pitching through the seventh. His only mistake was giving up a two-run homer to Jung Ho Kang in the seventh.

"In that role, you're just trying to go out there and eat up as many innings for the bullpen as you can, and that's something that can really set the bullpen back," Lyons said.

The Cardinals still have a fresh bullpen because of Lyons' work.

"That was huge," Matheny said. "Just coming in the situation he came in, getting a couple of punch outs, he looked great. He's throwing the ball well, he ate some innings up and we've got just about everybody else ready to go in case we need them."

Worth noting

• There was no update on Martinez's availability for his next start. The Cardinals have an off-day Monday, so it gives the team options if more rest is needed.

"If the medical team decides that he need more rest, we'll give him more rest," Matheny said.

• Matheny has been able to keep tabs on his son, Tate, who is playing at Greenville (S.C.) in the Boston Red Sox organization.

"It was fun after the game Thursday, we went home and able to hook up the iPad on the TV, and we were able to watch his first home run," Matheny said. "He had a home run and triple while me and the wife and two of the boys were watching."

Joe Harris is a contributor for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.