Houston at St. Louis

Scoreboard
Houston (48-101)000000000051
St. Louis (79-70) «02010002x581

Cards stymie 'Stros, maintain WC lead

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

ST. LOUIS -- Lance Lynn learned a lot from his 18-day stint in the St. Louis bullpen.

Lynn, making his second start since an Aug. 25 demotion, tossed 6 1-3 innings and David Freese and Yadier Molina both hit their 20th home run of the season to lead the Cardinals to a 5-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

The Cardinals, who have won seven straight against Houston, moved two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the race for the second wild card in the National League. Milwaukee is 2½ games back.

More on Astros-Cardinals
Related links
More MLB coverage

St. Louis has won three straight for the first time since a four-game streak from Aug. 21-24.

The Cardinals have five players with at least 20 homers for the first time in franchise history. Carlos Beltran (29), Matt Holliday (27) and Allen Craig (21) already hit the milestone.

Lynn (16-7) allowed three hits, struck out five and walked two in a 102-pitch stint. It was his second successive strong effort since posting a 6.56 ERA in five August starts.

"I got away from what I was all about early on in the season," Lynn said. "I got off track, and tried to start nibbling and throwing breaking pitches.

"Now, I'm going right after hitters and it's making all my stuff better."

Lynn is 2-0 with 12 strikeouts, four walks and one earned run in 12 1/3 innings since his return.

Lynn, who leads a talented staff in wins, retired nine straight batters after Jose Altuve's double to start the game. The All-Star was removed from the rotation after an Aug. 24 outing in which he gave up four earned in two innings at Cincinnati. He made six appearances in the bullpen before returning to the rotation last Thursday at Los Angeles. He gave up one run and five hits in six innings of a 2-1 win.

Manager Mike Matheny believes Lynn has returned to the rotation a smarter and more aggressive pitcher.

"He didn't go down to the bullpen and sulk, he tried to make himself better," Matheny said. "I think he learned a lot about his demeanor. He shortened up his mechanics, really tightened everything up."

Molina said Lynn was at his early season form. Lynn was 8-1 through the first two months of the season.

"He was outstanding, he was keeping the ball down and he was aggressive," Molina said.

Freese hit a two-run homer off Lucas Harrell (10-10) in the second inning. Harrell, winless in six starts, gave up three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked one.

"They have some guys that can hit the ball and you just want to work hard and try and get through the game," Harrell said.

Craig led off the second with a single to set the stage for Freese's shot. The Cardinals are 16-3 when Freese homers.

Molina homered in the fourth with one out to push St. Louis' lead to 3-0.

The 20 homers for Freese and Molina are both career highs.

"If you are a guy that's trying to solidify himself, that's the number that I think everybody else looks at," Freese said of the 20-homer mark. "It's nice to get to that number. We've got a good number of guys that have 20 or more. It's fun to be a part of."

Molina was pleased to get to the magical plateau.

"I can't lie, it's feels so good," he said.

Houston interim manager Tony DeFrancesco was impressed with Molina's game-calling skills as well as his new-found power.

"He's proven that he's one of the best players in the game right now both offensively and defensively," he said.

Jason Motte recorded his 37th save in 44 opportunities. Motte entered the game in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and one out, and ended it by striking out Chris Synder and Jimmy Paredes. Mitchell Boggs had struck out the side in the eighth on 12 pitches.

The Cardinals tacked on two runs in the eighth on successive hits by Jon Jay, Beltran and Holliday, and a sacrifice fly by Craig.

Notes

  • St. Louis RHP Jake Westbrook completed a successful bullpen session before the game. Westbrook, who strained a right oblique muscle on Sept 8, will throw again Friday. He is hoping to rejoin the rotation next week.
  • Houston, which has used 11 rookies this season, has the youngest active roster in the majors, averaging 26.3 years.
  • The Astros are 8-9 in September after rough stretches in August (5-22) and July (3-24).
  • Former St. Louis OF Jim Edmonds was in attendance.
  • Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia (4-7, 4.24 ERA) will face Bud Norris (5-12, 4.93) in the series final on Thursday afternoon. Norris is 7-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 14 career starts against St. Louis.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
David Freese puts the Cardinals ahead for good with a two-run home run in the second inning. (AP)
David Freese puts the Cardinals ahead for good with a two-run home run in the second inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

Y. Molina
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
St. Louis

L. Lynn
IP 6.1
H 3
ER 0
BB 2
K 5
 

Related Video

December 19, 2014
Fantasy Update: Andre Johnson (0:37)
December 18, 2014
NFL Mock Draft: Which teams might trade up?
(3:24)
December 17, 2014
Ravens at Texans Preview
(2:46)
December 16, 2014
Fantasy Update: DeAndre Hopkins
(0:42)

CBSSports.com Shop

Mens Chicago Cubs Nike Royal Blue Classic Pullover Hoodie

Free 3-Day Shipping over $100!
Use code 3DAY100
Get their favorite team gear
Shop Now

Houston Astros
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jose Altuve, 2B4010011 .290
Scott Moore, LF3000111 .238
Brett Wallace, 1B4010012 .262
Justin Maxwell, CF4000033 .234
Jed Lowrie, SS4010000 .252
Brandon Laird, 3B4020012 .267
Chris Snyder, C4000014 .184
Jimmy Paredes, RF3000124 .206
Lucas Harrell, P1000000 .161
    Hector Ambriz, P0000000 .000
   a- Jason Castro, PH1000010 .260
    Mickey Storey, P0000000 .000
    Chuckie Fick, P0000000 .000
Totals32050211  
a-struck out for Ambriz in the 8th
Batting
2B - Jose Altuve (33, Lynn), Brandon Laird (1, Lynn)
SH - Lucas Harrell (3)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - Brett Wallace (6, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Lucas Harrell (L,10-10) 5.2533172 3.89
Hector Ambriz 1.1000030 4.15
Mickey Storey0322000 4.38
Chuckie Fick 1000100 5.03
WP - Hector Ambriz (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Lucas Harrell 97-60, Hector Ambriz 14-11, Mickey Storey 14-10, Chuckie Fick 12-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Lucas Harrell 9-1, Hector Ambriz 1-0
Batters Faced - Lucas Harrell 23, Hector Ambriz 4, Mickey Storey 3, Chuckie Fick 4
St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jon Jay, CF4110010 .308
Carlos Beltran, RF4110020 .267
    Shane Robinson, RF0000000 .248
Matt Holliday, LF4021020 .296
Allen Craig, 1B3111001 .305
Yadier Molina, C3121101 .324
David Freese, 3B3112113 .293
Skip Schumaker, 2B4000013 .282
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
Pete Kozma, SS3000010 .281
Lance Lynn, P2000011 .065
    Edward Mujica, P0000000 .000
   a- Adron Chambers, PH1000010 .244
    Mitchell Boggs, P0000000 .000
    Joe Kelly, P0000000 .152
    Daniel Descalso, 2B0000000 .221
Totals31585210  
a-struck out for Mujica in the 7th
Batting
HR - Yadier Molina (20, Harrell), David Freese (20, Harrell)
SF - Allen Craig (6)
RBI - Matt Holliday (97), Allen Craig (83), Yadier Molina (68), David Freese 2 (78)
CS - David Freese (3, 2nd base by Harrell/Snyder)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - David Freese (15, Misplayed grounder)
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Lance Lynn (W,16-7) 6.1300250 3.79
Edward Mujica (H,26) 0.2000000 3.15
Mitchell Boggs (H,31) 1000030 2.39
Joe Kelly 0.1200010 3.59
Jason Motte (S,37) 0.2000020 2.98
Pitches-Strikes - Lance Lynn 102-64, Edward Mujica 8-6, Mitchell Boggs 12-10, Joe Kelly 14-11, Jason Motte 7-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Lance Lynn 6-8, Edward Mujica 1-1, Joe Kelly 1-0
Batters Faced - Lance Lynn 24, Edward Mujica 2, Mitchell Boggs 3, Joe Kelly 4, Jason Motte 2
Game Information
Attendance - 39062
Game Time - 2:49
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Mike Estabrook, First Base - Larry Vanover, Second Base - Dan Bellino, Third Base - Field Culbreth