ST. LOUIS — Lance Lynn picked up the pace Thursday and the St. Louis Cardinals were delighted with the results.
Lynn worked seven strong innings, laid down two sacrifice bunts and made three nice defensive plays as the Cardinals outscored Philadelphia 3-1 to complete a three-game sweep.
"I was able to get myself in a rhythm and started getting ahead of guys," said Lynn, who improved to 12-5 with a 3.98 ERA. "I was just attacking them with the fastball and made pitches. I got some quick outs, and that's what helped me get deeper in the game."
Lynn had been 1-4 with a 6.30 ERA in his previous five outings, battling his emotions and being unable to pitch with fluidity.
Those problems resurfaced in the first four innings when Lynn allowed four hits and four walks, although just one run.
But Lynn faced nine batters in his final three innings and his performance ended after he deflected pinch-hitter Steve Susdorf's grounder that went for a 1-4-6-3 double play that ended the seventh --the Cardinals' third double play of the game in support of Lynn.
"Lance was real good. That was what we had hoped to see," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I thought he got better as he went, too. He really did look good in the fifth, sixth, seventh, better than how he started.
"Looking from the side, he had impressive depth to his sinker. You saw a lot of swing-and-misses. His two-seam fastball really kicked in at that point. His stuff just got better later, for whatever reason."
Matheny said before the game that Lynn would make a concentrated effort to work faster.
"I'd say he was much better," said Matheny, glancing at his watch. "He got the ball and was throwing it. He was pounding the strike zone. That last game (Sunday against San Diego), he was just fighting, trying to figure something out and going the wrong way. He made a huge adjustment and it was a great day."
Lynn was a part of the Cardinals' three-run outburst against Kyle Kendrick (9-7) in the third when they sent eight men to the plate.
After Pete Kozma singled, Lynn advanced him with a sacrifice bunt. Matt Carpenter then singled to put St. Louis ahead 1-0, and Jon Jay followed with a triple that made it 2-0. After Allen Craig walked, Matt Adams grounded a single to right, giving Lynn more than enough run support.
Lynn also laid down a bunt in the fourth --his team-high 10th sacrifice. On defense, he also snared a line drive by Delmon Young in the first and turned it into a 1-3 double play. In the fourth, he pounced on Kendrick's bunt and started a 1-5-4 twin killing, snuffing out a rally in which the Phillies had scored their lone run.
"I made some plays that I don't know if I've made before tonight," Lynn said, acknowledging his defensive shortcomings. "I was able to glove some balls and save some hits up the middle. That was nice. They were starting to get a little rhythm (in the fourth). To end it right there was huge. I was able to spin and make a throw and David (Freese) finished it off."
Lynn was merely reacting to Young's first-inning line drive to Lynn's glove side that started the Cardinals' first double play.
"I charged that all the way," Lynn cracked.
Matheny was taken aback by Lynn's defense.
"He's not necessarily known for fielding his position that well," Matheny said. "And getting the bunts down, too. Those little things ended up being the difference in the game when we're not stacking up that many hits or runs. He needed to do those things right."
Lynn finished with 118 pitches, 80 for strikes. It was the most pitches he has thrown in a game since he had 124 on May 13 against the New York Mets at Busch Stadium.
Trevor Rosenthal pitched a scoreless eighth and Edward Mujica picked up his 30th save in the ninth, giving the Cardinals a 5-1 homestand heading into an 11-game road trip to Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
"We've got a 10-game road trip, 11 games," said Mujica, who has two walks and 38 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings. "We're trying to just go out there and play hard every day and see what happens."