Lynn Wins 12th, Cardinals Top Cubs 7-0 For Sweep

St. Louis Cardinals
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — For the third straight game, a St. Louis Cardinals starter thrived with get-me-by stuff. There was more than enough offense again, too.

Lance Lynn won his 12th game with six mostly spotless innings, and Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran homered on consecutive pitches to put the finishing touches on a 7-0 victory Sunday that completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs.

The weekend was near perfect for the World Series champions, who were 1-5 and totaled 15 runs in their first trip after the All-Star break.

”We’re in a good rhythm now,” Lynn said. ”We just need to stay there.”

Jon Jay and Tony Cruz hit consecutive two-run doubles off Travis Wood (4-5) in the first for St. Louis, which outscored the Cubs 23-1 and outhit them 38-16 for their sweep over Chicago since June 3-5, 2011 in St. Louis. It’s just their second series sweep overall at home, where they’re 26-20.

The Cardinals have had strong pitching most of the year, and rookie manager Mike Matheny has been waiting for a spotty lineup to produce consistently. St. Louis leads the National League with a .276 average and 464 runs.

”You see guys having big numbers and our record really wasn’t indicative of that,” Matheny said. ”It’s just a matter of kind of putting it together and those hits falling in timely spots.

”That was probably one of the more frustrating things with the trip we just had. Hopefully we can ride this out for a while.”

Lynn (12-4) has allowed just one run in 19 innings his last three starts. Like Kyle Lohse, who allowed a run in seven innings Friday, and Jake Westbrook, who put up seven scoreless innings Saturday, the right-hander had to work for his outs.

”It was one of those days that command-wise I wasn’t where I needed to be early in the count,” Lynn said. ”But I was able to make pitches to get out of situations. You’ve got to do that sometimes.”

Fernando Salas and Marc Rzepczynski finished a combined five-hitter as the Cardinals earned consecutive shutouts for the first time since Oct. 1-2, 2010, against the Rockies.

The Cubs’ 14-5 record entering the series was the best in the majors over that span. Aside from pitching woes with Ryan Dempster’s 33-inning scoreless streak ending and Matt Garza lasting just three innings, the offense ended the game with 25 consecutive scoreless innings and was 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position in the series, including seven chances Sunday.

”It’s very tough,” said cleanup man Alfonso Soriano, who was 1 for 11 with five strikeouts in the series. ”I think you have to give a lot of credit to St. Louis, they pitched very well and have a very good team, a very good offense. I think we forget this weekend.”

Attendance of 42,411 just missed a third straight sellout, with some fans perhaps scared off by forecasts of triple-digit temperatures. It was 94 degrees at game time.

Holliday also doubled in the first, giving St. Louis a two-game total of 12 one day after tying the decades-old major league record with seven. The Cardinals also tied the franchise record with a 12-run seventh against four Cubs relievers in that game Saturday.

Jay added three singles for his first career four-hit game, with everything to the opposite field including a dribbler down the third-base line that he legged out in the seventh, plus a nice running catch at the warning track in center field to deny pinch hitter Joe Mather’s bid for extra bases in the seventh.

Jay entered the series finale in a 2-for-20 slump and did not start the series opener Friday.

Lynn pushed aside workload concerns in his first season in the rotation. In his previous three starts, he gave up 17 runs in 15 1/3 innings while steadfastly insisting that the problems were solely pitch location at key spots.

Lynn’s lone problem, inattentiveness to baserunners, didn’t hurt him. David DeJesus, who’s just 3 for 8 on steals, and Bryan LaHair, 2 for 3, stole second standing up to start the first two innings, but stayed there.

”After they told me what I was doing, they didn’t steal again,” Lynn said. ”You give up two steals with no throw with a good catcher back there, you know you screwed up. So you fix it.”

Wood almost got out of the first without damage when Allen Craig stumbled rounding third on Holliday’s one-out double and had to retreat. Jay bailed out Craig with an opposite-field flare to left that dropped just inside the line.

”I’m not sure what happened,” Wood said. ”Their series, I guess. They put the ball in play, got the hits when they needed them.

”It just wasn’t our series at all.”

The Cubs paid homage to Hall of Famer Ron Santo before taking the field in the bottom of the first, jumping over the third-base foul line and clicking their heels.

”Everybody did it and I think everybody is happy for the team and for the Ron Santo family,” Soriano said.

NOTES: Jeff Samardzija (6-8, 4.57) starts for the Cubs in the opener of a three-game series at Pittsburgh on Monday. Joe Kelly is 0-1 but with a stingy 2.11 ERA in four career home starts heading into the Cardinals’ opener of a four-game series against the Dodgers and Chad Billingsley (4-9, 4.30). … Jay is 7 for 13 with 21 RBIs for his career with the bases loaded. … The Cubs demoted RHP Rafael Dolis, 2-4 with a 6.44 ERA, to Triple-A Iowa before the game and recalled LHP Jeff Beliveau. He allowed three hits in 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his major league debut. … Holliday is batting .440 (48 for 109) his last 29 games with six homers, 14 doubles and 28 RBIs.

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About the St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals are one of Major League Baseball’s iconic franchises. The team with the “Birds on the Bat” have won more World Series titles than any other National League club, and are second only to the New York Yankees overall.

St. Louis has been home to a National League franchise since 1892, but the franchise wasn’t known as the Cardinals until 1900.

Behind future Hall of Fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby, the Cardinals won their first World Series in 1926 over the Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig Yankees. The ‘Gashouse Gang’ era Cardinals dominated the 1930s thanks to Dizzy Dean, Johnny Mize and Joe Medwick and won the 1934 World Series.

Did you know that Branch Rickey, who would later rise to fame for bringing Jackie Robinson to the Major Leagues and breaking baseball’s color barrier, invented the minor league farm system we know today with the St. Louis Cardinals? It was Rickey who built a system of affiliate teams to grow talent that would later shine in St. Louis. In the 1930s and 1940s, that system produced the likes of future Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst and Enos Slaughter, all of whom won World Series championships for the Cardinals.

The Musial-era Cardinals would later give way to a new generation, and it was Bob Gibson and Lou Brock who helped bring the World Series back to St. Louis in the 1960s. Gibson had one of the most dominant seasons in baseball history in 1968. He was so good baseball lowered the mound the following year.

The 1970s saw the end of the Gibson and Brock years, the trade of Steve Carlton to Philadelphia and the arrival of Keith Hernandez. Hernandez would share the 1979 NL MVP award with Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell.

For the Cardinals, the 1980s could be summed up in a single word: Whiteyball. Behind Manager Whitey Herzog, baseball in St. Louis became synonymous with speed, stolen bases and defense. Shortstop Ozzie Smith was acquired from San Diego, and with Hernandez, second baseman Tommy Herr, a rookie outfielder named Willie McGee and closer Bruce Sutter, the Cardinals won the 1982 World Series over the Milwaukee Brewers. After Hernandez would dealt to the New York Mets, that core of players, along with slugger Jack Clark, would get the Cardinals to two more World Series trips that decade.

The 1980s saw the end of the Gussie Busch ownership era for the Cardinals. When he died in 1989, the Anheuser-Busch brewery took over after nearly 40 years under his watch.

In 1996 the brewery sold the club to the ownership group still led today by Bill DeWitt, Jr. The DeWitt family brought in former Oakland A’s manager Tony LaRussa, who would go on to be the winningest manager in team history. With another former Oakland hand running the front office in Walt Jocketty, the team acquired Mark McGwire from the A’s in 1997. The slugging first baseman would break Roger Maris’ single-season record for Home Runs in 1998 in a chase with Sammy Sosa that captivated the nation, only later to be tainted by the use of performance-enhancing drugs that McGwire admitted to years later.

In 2001, a young rookie named Albert Pujols burst on the St. Louis scene. Playing all over the field, he was the runaway winner of the National League MVP, setting the stage for the most dominant decade of offensive performance ever seen in a player’s first ten years in Major League Baseball. Catcher Yadier Molina came on board in 2004 as the Cardinals made their first World Series appearance since 1987. Two years later, a rookie pitcher named Adam Wainwright would fill in as the closer on a club that won its first World Series since 1982.

The Cardinals’ third World Series appearance in eight seasons may have been the most improbable when it came in 2011. A team that was left for dead at the start of September managed to roar into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season behind the pitching heroics of Chris Carpenter down the stretch. Once in the playoffs, the legend of David Freese was born. Freese, a St. Louis County native, won the National League Championship Series MVP by slugging three home runs against Milwaukee. Then in the World Series against Texas, down to the team’s last strike in what would have been a Rangers clincher, a Freese triple tied the game. A Freese home run in extra innings forced a Game 7, which the Cardinals won, bringing an 11th World Series crown home.

Albert Pujols left via free agency in the offseason and LaRussa retired, but the Cardinals kept moving forward, reaching the 2013 World Series against the Boston Red Sox with former catcher Mike Matheny now managing the club. In some respects, the Cardinals are still recovering from what happened October 26, 2014, when outfielder Oscar Taveras, considered a potentially generational talent who could have become the face of the franchise, died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

The Matheny era would last 6.5 seasons, until he was replaced by current manager Mike Shildt in 2018.

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