ST. LOUIS — So much for Lance Lynn's ineffectiveness.
When it was announced July 1 that Lynn had made the National League All-Star team, the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander lamented what was then a stretch of three shoddy starts.
Lynn has turned the tables on negative results. He recorded his third consecutive strong outing Sunday in a 7-0 win over the Chicago Cubs, throwing six scoreless innings.
Lynn (12-4, 3.10 ERA) allowed four hits, walked three and struck out five. During his three-start stretch, he has permitted one run on 14 hits in 19 innings, with five walks and 22 strikeouts.
"Before the All-Star break, I had those few starts that were pretty miserable," Lynn said. "It upset me. I'm pitching with a little chip on my shoulder, trying to get as many outs as I can."
Lynn's outing was made easier by the Cardinals' four-run first against Cubs left-hander Travis Wood. The inning featured two-run doubles by Jon Jay and reserve catcher Tony Cruz.
"That's fun. It makes it easier to pitch," said Lynn, who is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in three starts against the Cubs and 7-1 against NL Central foes. "You just go out there and try to execute and not give up runs. You have that lead, and you just try to not screw it up."
Left fielder Matt Holliday, whose 16th homer of the season to open the fifth was followed by Carlos Beltran's 200th career NL homer, lauded Lynn's contributions this season.
"He's pitched great," Holliday said. "He's given us a chance to win in almost every start. He made the All-Star team. He's had a great season so far."
Greene gets start
Tyler Greene started at second base and was 0-for-4 with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly. Greene is batting .214 with four homers and 17 RBIs, with 52 strikeouts in 168 at-bats.
Early in spring training, the enigmatic Greene was anointed the starter at second base. It hasn't worked out that way, with playing time being patchy and Greene not reaching expectations.
Matheny said Greene just needs to keep plugging away.
"We're just making sure that he's keeping his head down and working --and getting feedback, too," Matheny said. "The feedback is consistency. We see flashes of (him having) a really good idea and approach, and application (of it).
"It's difficult when you get sporadic playing time. I get that. We all talk about his talent. But at this level, it's got to be on a consistent basis. A lot of that is just focus, concentration and then application of the things he's learning. That's really what he's missing."
Freese stays hot
Third baseman David Freese, who was 1-for-2 with two walks Sunday, is 22-for-49 (.449) in his last 16 games, 15 of them starts, elevating his average to .305 with 14 homers and 55 RBIs.
"David's doing a pretty good job of figuring his swing out," Matheny said. "I think this year he's matured into a more well-rounded player. You're seeing some of these defensive plays, especially on the ball coming in. He's really opened a lot of people's eyes and he should be proud of himself."
Former manager Tony La Russa often used a defensive replacement for Freese in the late innings. That's not the case with Matheny.
"We get late in the game and I want him out there unless it's a double-switch situation," Matheny said. "But for the most part, I've been very impressed with him (defensively)."
Freese raced in and made a barehanded pickup and threw to first to retire Darwin Barney on Saturday. On Sunday, he dived to his left and smothered Steve Clevenger's smash to start a 5-4-3 double play.
Freese has just one homer since June 14, but with his average climbing and his defense improving, the Cardinals aren't nit-picking about a power lapse.
"We don't have guys that are just home-run guys," Matheny said. "David is certainly one of those guys that falls into that."
The Cardinals outscored the Cubs 23-1 in the series and held Chicago scoreless for the last 25 innings.
Despite the sweep, the Cardinals were unable to gain ground Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. The first-place Reds lead the Cardinals by five games; the Pirates lead St. Louis by one-half game.
"We can't worry about those teams," Holliday said. "We played good these three days. We've got to keep playing well and winning games. You can't (control) how the other teams are playing. Obviously, if they win way more than we do the rest of the year, they'll win. All we can control is how we play."