Lynn earns first win as Cards end three-game skid

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[April 18, 2017]  ST. LOUIS -- Lance Lynn came into his start for the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night knowing exactly what was missing in his first two games this season.

Coming back after sitting out last season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, Lynn got himself in trouble in the middle innings of those starts, both of which turned into losses for the Cardinals.

"The first couple of games, I was good early on and got into the middle innings and wasn't attacking and doing the things I do well as a starting pitcher," Lynn said. "I just felt I wasn't in my natural element of attacking hitters, and that's not me. I'm not going to pitch like that."

Lynn did what he wanted to do Monday, tossing seven shutout innings for his first victory of the season, 2-1 over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He outdueled Ivan Nova, who pitched an eight-inning complete game in just 78 pitches but lost because of a home run by Kolten Wong in the third inning and an RBI single by Jose Martinez in the seventh.

Lynn (1-1) allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out five. He also hit two batters, both of them Josh Harrison, who also was hit twice on Sunday in Chicago.

Nova's pitch to Wong was one of only a few mistakes the Pittsburgh right-hander made in the game. It was the first home run he had allowed in 42 innings dating back to last year.

"I wanted to go outside and the ball was inside to his power and he took advantage of it," Nova said. "I was trying to be aggressive in the strike zone. I was trying to make good pitches. I was able to throw strikes. I had the hitters out of rhythm."

Wong's homer was one of only two hits by the Cardinals until the seventh inning.

Pirate manager Clint Hurdle was impressed by both pitchers in the old-fashioned duel.

"Both of those starters were quick and efficient," Hurdle said. "Ivan was on top of his game. He had 13 first-pitch strikes. He had 13 hitters retired on three pitches or less and only one three-ball count. I thought he pitched an extremely competitive game.

"We've seen Lynn good here. We've had more success against him at home. The splits are substantial. He moved the ball in and out. He's very aggressive in the zone. The slider plagued right-handers. He threw an effective changeup."

The Pirates (6-7) threatened in the ninth against Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh, who gave up an infield single with one out and a two-out RBI single by pinch hitter Gregory Polanco before getting John Jaso to ground out for the final out.

It was the first save by the Cardinals this season, coming in their 13th game.

The Cardinals (4-9) stopped a three-game losing streak. Reversing the team's early struggles also was on Lynn's mind.

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Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn (31) celebrates after getting the final out of the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

"We lost the first two games I started this year, and I really hate losing, especially when I don't do my job," Lynn said. "It was time for me to get going and get back to doing what I'm capable of doing.

"You want to be known as the stopper. When you go through a rotation and see we're not pitching the way we're capable of or played the way we're capable of you want to be the guy that kind of gets us going and stops it. Hopefully that will bleed into the next start."

The start of the season also has not gone well for Wong, who was in an 0-for-10 rut and hitting .148 before his home run, his first of the season. It was the seventh of his career against the Pirates, the most he has hit against any team.

"We kind of came out with different energy," Wong said. "To get that run for us was huge because you knew Lance was going to pitch a good game. We got the win, that's all that matters."

NOTES: 1B Matt Carpenter was a late scratch from the Cardinals' lineup because of a swollen finger. He was hurt fielding a ball in the Sunday night game ... Pirates OF Gregory Polanco was not in the starting lineup for the third consecutive game because of discomfort in his right groin, but he pinch-hit in the ninth. It is likely he will be able to play on Tuesday. ... Cardinals LHP Tyler Lyons (right knee) made his third start during a rehab assignment for Triple-A Memphis on Monday and threw 73 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. ... The Pirates acquired RHP Johnny Barbato from the Yankees for a player to be named later or cash. Barbato, 24, was added to the 40-man roster and optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. ... Cardinals RHP Mike Leake (1-1, 0.60 ERA) will start in the second game of the series Tuesday night against Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (0-0, 2.38 ERA).

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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