ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals were readying to hand Sunday's spot start to long reliever Tyler Lyons, though not yet prepared to commit to it ahead of the club's series opener against the Dodgers. Mike Matheny wanted to first see how Friday played out.
And indeed, circumstances changed. Instead of stepping in to fill a rotation void this weekend, Lyons stepped up to lift the Cardinals to their fifth straight win by covering the bulk of the extra frames in the team's 4-3, 16-inning victory over the Dodgers at Busch Stadium. Lyons twirled 4 2/3 sensational innings of relief to lead into Matt Adams' game-winning home run.
"That was the story," manager Mike Matheny said of Lyon's performance. "Tyler was the star tonight."
Matheny turned to Lyons in the 11th to face the left-handed-hitting Chase Utley and Corey Seager. Lyons garnered those outs with ease, and breezed through the 12th as well. At that point, Matheny, who had three other unused relievers available, made a call that he knew would have a residual effect.
Instead of saving Lyons for what might be two days later, Matheny opted to push him as deep as he could in the moment.
"We'll figure out Sunday on Sunday, or maybe tomorrow," Matheny said afterward. "If Tyler hadn't been sharp or if he got tired or if there's a situation where we absolutely had to hit for him, there may have been an opportunity to still start him. But we liked the way he was throwing the ball against righties, lefties, it didn't matter. He had really good stuff. That is a tough spot to come into, and he was impressive."
Lyons matched his longest relief stint of the season with the outing and was efficient (53 pitches) in doing so. He retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced and allowed his only hit with two out in the 15th. Lyons worked around that double by getting Joc Pederson to pop out.
The work was welcomed by the lefty, who had been used sparingly of late. Since July 9, Lyons had faced two batters.
"You never really know what to expect when you get to extra innings," Lyons said. "I was definitely tiring out towards the end, but I still felt pretty good. I had a few easier innings, shorter innings, in there at times, so that kind of helped me go longer and longer."
As for Sunday's starter, the Cardinals have yet to announce whether it will be made by someone from the bullpen or will require a fill-in from the farm.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.