Lynn, Cardinals shut out Houston Wednesday

Lance Lynn made his case to remain in the rotation with 6 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday night.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Despite spending nearly three weeks in the bullpen, where he was sent after struggling for the better part of a month, right-hander Lance Lynn moved into the top five in the National League in wins at 16 Wednesday night by blanking Houston for 6 1/3 innings in a 5-0 victory.

 

Lynn allowed just three hits and two walks and only once allowed the Astros two runners in the same inning. Since emerging from the bullpen, Lynn (16-7) has given up only one run in 12 1/3 innings.

 

"There was a major overhaul," said manager Mike Matheny, who wasn't all that enamored for a while with Lynn's performance or demeanor.

 

"He spent a lot of time with Chris Carpenter, talking about the finer points of your demeanor, of your tempo, how you hold yourself on the mound. He didn't go down to the bullpen and sulk. He tried to figure out how to make himself better."

 

Lynn, who admitted paying attention to his pitching elders about his mound comportment, said, "That's part of the learning process. You're going to have your times where you have bad outings. You've just got not to let everyone know that you're not feeling good. They see that and they're going to keep coming after you."

 

On the mechanical side, Lynn shortened his windup, not unnecessarily going over his head before continuing his delivery.

 

Both third baseman David Freese and catcher Yadier Molina belted his 20th home run, making this the first Cardinals team to have five players with 20 or more homers in a season. Carlos Beltran (29), Matt Holliday (27) and Allen Craig (21) already had reached that figure.

 

Matheny said, "That is a stat I didn't know. It's a pretty impressive statistic, with the long, rich history here."

 

In the big picture, Matheny said the presence of that many boppers didn't allow the opposition "a lot of room to relax and take a breath. We've put in people's minds that if you back off at any second, we've got quite a few guys who can put the ball over the fence."

 

Molina, further cementing his candidacy for National League Most Valuable Player, became the first Cardinals catcher to hit 20 or more homers in a season since Ted Simmons had 21 in 1980.

 

"What a jump he's made," said Matheny. "He's got everybody's attention all throughout the league now."

 

NOTES, QUOTES

1B Lance Berkman, who earlier this month had a second surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee, hasn't given up hope of playing again this season. Berkman, who has felt comfortable walking around, said, "I'm not ruling out a return by the end of the regular season, the way it feels. But I'm not ruling it in, either. I'm hopeful that if I can get the swelling calmed down and if I can get a little strength back in there and if I can get in the batting cage and see how it feels there … all these are big 'ifs,' but I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility."

SS Rafael Furcal still is on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his right elbow. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection nearly two weeks ago and hasn't been cleared to do much in the way of rehabilitation. Furcal said, "It's really boring right now." But Furcal said he had been advised by the medical staff not to push his recovery. "If you rush and you get hurt bad, then you have to have surgery and you lose next year, too," Furcal said.

RHP Jake Westbrook, recovering from a strained right oblique, threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, said he felt no discomfort while working at "60 to 70 percent" and planned to repeat the process Friday in Chicago. Then he hopes to resume pitching again for the first time since Sept. 8. "It felt great. Awesome. It felt better than I thought it was going to," Westbrook said.

RHP Mitchell Boggs fanned the side in the eighth inning. That gave Boggs his National League-leading 31st hold

RHP Jason Motte entered in the ninth with the Cardinals leading by five runs but gained the save with two strikeouts as he inherited a bases-loaded situation. Motte, at 37 saves, trails Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel by only one for the league lead.

By the Numbers:

10-2 - RHP Lance Lynn's record against National League Central Division teams this year.

Quote to Note:

"I wouldn't want to just limp around as a DH. If I can't get the thing back pretty close to where it's 100 percent, I'm not going to fool with it."

- 1B Lance Berkman, coming off a second knee surgery when considering whether he would play in the American League next year.

MEDICAL WATCH

RHP Jake Westbrook (strained right oblique) will miss a start or two but apparently will be able to pitch again this season.

1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) underwent additional surgery Sept. 14 and was thought to be out for the season, but he says he still wants to try to play.

RHP Chris Carpenter (right shoulder surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 10. He threw for the first time since March on June 13 and then threw another 40 pitches on June 15. He threw to hitters for the first time June 22 but then had a setback June 25 when he felt renewed weakness in the shoulder. He said it felt better the next day, and he had an extensive throwing session off flat ground June 27. On June 28, he was told he has thoracic outlet syndrome, which can cause, among its effects, weakness in one's shoulder. He underwent what was believed to be season-ending surgery July 19 to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome. After continued progress, he is scheduled to pitch again for the Cardinals on Sept. 21.

SS Rafael Furcal (torn ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the knife. As of Sept. 19, he still hadn't been able to do any baseball activities.

RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10.

Link to boxscore: St. Louis 5, Houston 0

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