Cards mash five homers in Lynn's sixth win

Cards mash five homers in Lynn's sixth win

Cards mash five homers in Lynn's sixth win
PHOENIX -- Bob Tewksbury and Lance Lynn have this in common: They're the last Cardinals starters to open the season with six consecutive wins.

Tewksbury did it during the strike-shortened 1994 season and Lynn completed his 6-0 start on Monday night at Chase Field, winning, 9-6, over the D-Backs.

"It's good," Lynn said. "We're winning games when I'm out there on the mound. That's all that matters. That's what I'm here to do, help the team win. I'm getting a lot of help. I just hope I keep improving every time out."

Lynn was helped on Monday by a trio of homers from Rafael Furcal, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday, all coming against D-backs starter Joe Saunders (2-2). Furcal led off the game with his homer, the first of three hits for the shortstop. Beltran and Holliday went back to back to open the third. Allen Craig and David Freese also went back to back to open the seventh.

The five homers were the most by a National League team this season and most by the Cardinals since July 15, 2007, at Philadelphia.

Lynn worked five innings, didn't allow a run and was touched for three hits, leaving after tossing 91 pitches with the Cards leading, 7-0. He walked four and struck out seven. His ERA dropped to 1.40 and his 6-0 record is the best in the Major Leagues. By his own admission he didn't have his best stuff.

"You're not going to feel good every time you go out, and tonight was one of those times when I didn't have command," Lynn said. "You just try to make pitches and minimize [the damage]. I was just able to get out of some situations."

Lynn was able to escape from a first-and-third situation in the bottom of the first after Gerardo Parra led off with a triple. And to end the fourth, left fielder Holliday threw out Miguel Montero at the plate on a Willie Bloomquist single. When the D-backs later made it close, that turned out to be one of the key plays of the game.

"Actually I thought we had several opportunities against him," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said when asked about Lynn. "He didn't really have very good location. He got up, 7-0, and we let him off the hook in the first inning. We ran his pitch count way up there. His ball moves a lot. He's 6-0 though, he's doing something right, but he's had some pretty good support as well."

To be sure, Lynn didn't want to come out of the game for a pinch-hitter to open the top of the sixth inning. But Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he was taking the long view.

"I would've loved to have gone back out," he said. "[Matheny] is the boss. I do what he tells me. You never want to come out, especially that early in a game. I felt good, but I was struggling a little bit. I don't blame him at all."

But when the D-backs rebounded to score six times in the sixth inning off relievers J.C. Romero and Fernando Salas to suddenly make it a one-run game, the rookie skipper began to second guess himself.

"It's easy to look at it now and want to throw him back out there," Matheny said. "But you're looking at a kid who's never started a full Major League season, leading our team in innings. With what our bullpen has done, we all felt comfortable turning over a 7-0 lead. Give them a lot of credit. They put a great run on it. Fortunately we were able to hold them off."

Lynn made 18 appearances last season after he was brought up from the Minor Leagues, but only two of them were starts. He was groomed, though, as a starter at the lower levels and is making the most of the opportunity now.

Prior to Monday night, all six of his career wins came against Central opponents. It was his first start ever against the D-backs and first appearance against them at Chase Field. He tossed three scoreless innings against Arizona in a pair of relief appearances last season at Busch Stadium.

Tewksbury, by the way, finished the 1994 season, 12-10, losing 10 of his last 16 decisions.

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.