John Lackey isn’t one to get wrapped up in his performances, good or bad.
But the St. Louis Cardinals sure like what they’re seeing from their 36-year-old right-hander.
“Great,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Lackey’s latest gem Friday when he struck out nine in seven shutout innings as St. Louis defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0. “He really had nice control of the fastball, working the bottom of the zone. ... Once again, that was a very good, consistent outing. We’ve been seeing a lot of those from him lately.”
Lackey (3-3) lowered his ERA at Busch Stadium to 1.30 in five starts (five earned runs in 34 2/3 innings). He has walked seven and struck out 32 at home.
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“I’ve pitched pretty well here, but for the most part, I’ve felt pretty good all year,” Lackey said after the Cardinals improved to 32-16 overall and 19-5 at Busch. “We’ve played well at home, especially. I think the guys really like playing here. The fans here, they make it nice and comfortable for us. We really like to play here and play good baseball here.
“It kind of works both ways. They get fired up to watch us play and it helps us out, for sure.”
Lackey was in trouble only once when Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner led off the seventh with singles. But Andre Ethier struck out looking, Alex Guerrero fouled out to third and A.J. Ellis struck out swinging.
“They’ve got a good lineup,” Lackey said. “You’ve got to keep grinding and not take anything for granted. I was fortunate enough to make some pitches. Yadi (Molina) and I had a good game plan. He called some good stuff, so it worked out pretty good.
“It’s been a nice run, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
Randal Grichuk, who batted cleanup and drove in the Cardinals’ second run with an RBI double in the third against Mike Bolsinger, said he enjoys playing behind Lackey.
“He’s very easy (to play behind),” Grichuk said. “Obviously, he’s getting a lot of Ks and getting a lot of ground balls. He’s just battling out there. It’s fun to play behind him.”
Grichuk said he felt confident Lackey would protect the lead the Cardinals gave him for good when they scored one in the first. They added single tallies in the third and seventh.
“Oh, definitely,” Grichuk said. “He’s been on. He’s been mixing his pitches well. He’s a bulldog out there. He’s going to give you everything he’s got for as long as he can until Mike pulls him. He wants to be in there, and that fires us up to make plays behind him. He’s been doing a heck of a job.”