Cardinals, Lynn blank Pirates
There's not much about St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn that the Pirates don't know.
"We've faced him so many times. We really don't have to watch video on him anymore," shortstop Jordy Mercer said. "We know what he's got and what he likes to do. Sometimes, he's just got it."
On Saturday, Lynn faced the Pirates for the 20th time in his six-year career. They had good scoring chances against him, but Lynn held the Pirates in check and guided the Cardinals to a 4-0 victory.
"We've seen this before," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He pounds the strike zone, moves the ball around, and changes speeds. That's the guy we saw tonight. We made him pitch a little bit more … (but) we weren't able to make anything happen."
The Pirates went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.
It's the ninth time the Cardinals blanked the Pirates at PNC Park, and the first time since Sept. 28, 2015 — a game also was started by Lynn.
Lynn (8-6) pitched 61⁄3 innings, gave up eight hits, and struck out three. It was a drastic improvement on his June 24 outing against the Pirates, when Lynn was tagged for seven runs in 52⁄3 innings at Busch Stadium.
"Today, his ball had more giddy-up on it," Mercer said. "He was locating better. He could sink it better. The ball was getting on us all night. You know he's going to throw a lot of fastballs, and he'll ride it up in the zone when he wants to."
Pirates starter Jameson Taillon (5-3) worked on 11 days' rest because of the All-Star break. The right-hander went five innings, gave up four runs on eight hits, and struck out five.
"I don't think being wild was a problem, which is usually what I do when I'm rusty," Taillon said. "I just needed to be a little sharper."
Going into the game, Taillon had not allowed a run in 151⁄3 consecutive innings. The streak was in jeopardy when the first two batters, Matt Carpenter and Tommy Pham, hit back-to-back singles. However, Dexter Fowler bounced into a double play and Jedd Gyorko struck out.
Pham began the fourth inning with a double to right-center field and went to third on a ground out. Gyorko punched an RBI single through the drawn-in infield to make it 1-0.
The Pirates had runners on the corners with one out in the second and runners on first and second with none out in the fourth. However, Lynn, who's holding right-handed hitters to a .177 batting average, nuked both rallies by getting a righty to ground into a double play.
Mercer's 6-4-3 double play ended the second inning. David Freese's 1-4-3 version stalled things in the fourth.
"When (Lynn) needed a ground ball, he was able to sink it really well and get one," Mercer said.
Three consecutive hits and an error with two outs in the fifth helped the Cardinals extend their lead to 4-0. Luke Voit got it started with a single.
"Leadoff guy gets on, I strike out two guys in a row," Taillon said. "I feel strong. I feel fresh still. Then, the pitcher gets a hit. I'm going to have a tough time getting over that one tonight."
Lynn connected on a first-pitch fastball and doubled to center. Voit scored when Andrew McCutchen muffed the ball for an error.
It was just the third hit in 33 at-bats for Lynn. Even more unusual was Lynn, a righty, batted from the left side.
"The Cardinals do the little things right," Taillon said. "He was ready to hit."
Carpenter singled to score Lynn. Pham lined an RBI double.
Lynn tossed only 50 pitches through the first four innings. He needed 29 to get through the fifth, including 15 in grinding at-bats against Phil Gosselin and Adam Frazier.
Gosselin bounced a two-out single up the middle. Frazier shot a single past first baseman Voit. Lynn was visibly upset that Voit didn't come up with Frazier's grounder, which prompted a visit from pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.
Once Lynn cooled down, he got Josh Harrison to fly out to center and end the threat.
The Pirates knocked Lynn out of the game in the seventh. With the bases loaded and two outs, reliever Matt Bowman got Harrison to fly out to left.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.