Never one to mince words, Lance Lynn offered no excuses Thursday night after a miserable performance against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Lynn allowed seven runs (three earned) on seven hits in two-thirds of an inning as the St. Louis Cardinals fell 10-5 at Busch Stadium, their first home loss to the Pirates in six games this season. It was the shortest outing of Lynn’s career, as a starter or a reliever.
“I had nothing. It was terrible, plain and simple,” said Lynn (9-7), who threw 41 pitches. “You give up seven runs and don’t get out of the first inning, that’s a poor effort, and that’s what it was. Next time, I’ve got to be better, and I will be. That’s all there is to it.
“A lot of balls in the middle, a lot of balls behind in counts. They’re a good hitting team, and they made me pay. That’s what it is. I never gave myself a chance. ... I haven’t had a game like that in my life. It’s the (worst) game I’ve ever thrown in my life, and I’m not happy about it.”
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It was the first time since May 15, 1998, against Florida (now Miami) that the Cardinals had been rocked for seven runs in the first inning.
Previously, Lynn’s shortest start of his career had been two innings (twice), most recently June 28, 2014. His shortest start this season had been four innings, also against Pittsburgh.
“It was one of those days you want to forget about as quick as possible and get back out there,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “It’s just not something we normally see from Lance. I doubt we will again this year. Those happen from time to time. You’ve just got to let them go.”
Matheny wouldn’t comment on what he believed went wrong for Lynn.
“No. It was just one of those days,” he said. “I think that’s basically how we’re going to leave it. Forget it as quick as you can and see if there’s anything you can learn quickly and move on. Chalk it up to a team coming out and swinging. They were swinging the bats. They came out right from the top, going pretty strong. We let this one go.”
Lynn retired the Pirates first hitter, Gregory Polanco, but the next six batters reached, including Cardinals killer Pedro Alvarez, who launched a mammoth 433-foot home run to center.
The Pirates hit for the cycle against Lynn, whose inning was extended when normally reliable third baseman Matt Carpenter committed a throwing error that made it 2-0, ahead of Alvarez’s homer that extended the gap to 4-0.
Catcher Yadier Molina failed to come up with a strong throw home by left fielder Randal Grichuk after Francisco Liriano’s single, which allowed Francisco Cervelli to score. The Pirates also capitalized on a single by Travis Ishikawa, whose fly to right seemed harmless until Jason Heyward lost sight of it because of the sun. Ishikawa wound up scoring on a hit by Polanco.
Matheny said the inning would have been ugly were it not for Carpenter’s error, Molina’s dropped ball and the sun-aided single.
“It would have looked a little different, but it was still going to be a rough one,” Matheny said. “It was still going to be a rough start and we were going to have to fight back pretty far.”
Lynn is eager to put the game behind him. Very eager.
“I’d pitch (Friday) if they let me,” he said.
The Cardinals rallied with two runs in the second, one in the sixth and two in the seventh to get within 7-5. They had the go-ahead run at the plate in the inning, but Kolten Wong, whose dramatic home runs have been a highlight of his young career, struck out against Tony Watson.
Watson then worked a scoreless eighth, and after the Pirates scored three in the ninth against Seth Maness, Mark Melancon put down the Cardinals in order in the ninth.
“Look at what happened between the first and the ninth and we saw a lot of good things happened there,” Matheny said. “You saw a team that kept coming and put a scare in the other side.”
The bright side for the Cardinals was the strong work out of the bullpen by Tyler Lyons, who relieved Lynn and went 5 1/3 scoreless innings. Lyons permitted three hits, walked one and struck out two in a 69-pitch workout.
It was Lyons’ first big-league game since July 7 and his first game of any kind since Aug. 3 when he was with Class AAA Memphis.
“It’s obviously not the ideal situation to be thrown into,” Lyons said. “You don’t expect that from Lance, a guy who usually goes deep into games. But you’ve got to be ready for anything, so you just try to make the most of an opportunity.”
Lyons said he empathized with Lynn’s plight.
“We’ve all been there. It’s not a fun thing. It never is,” Lyons said. “We’ve all had those outings. You’ve just got to do your best to forget about it.”
Pirates 10, Cardinals 5
Pittsburgh scored seven runs in the first inning against Lance Lynn, four of which were unearned, and three more in the ninth against Seth Maness to record its first win of the season over the St. Louis Cardinals in six games at Busch Stadium. Francisco Liriano (8-6) pitched six innings for the victory and Pedro Alvarez whacked a two-run homer in the monster first that saw the Pirates hit for the cycle.
By the numbers
Despite the loss, the Cardinals (73-41) still lead the second-place Pirates (66-46) by six games in the NL Central. ... Lynn's two-thirds-of-an-inning outing was the shortest of his career, and the big right-hander fell to 9-7 this season. ... Pittsburgh banged out 13 hits against five pitchers, with 11 of the hits coming in the first and ninth innings. ... Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta and Jason Heyward collected two hits apiece for St. Louis.
Jaime Garcia (4-4, 1.77 ERA) vs. Tom Koehler (8-9, 3.75 ERA), 7:15 p.m. Friday in opener of three-game series vs. Miami.