There were contributions aplenty Saturday as the St. Louis Cardinals won their third consecutive game, nipping Kansas City 3-2 before 45,981 at Busch Stadium.
Tyler Lyons won his first game in more than two years, Mark Reynolds hit his first home run since May 19 and Jason Heyward made a game-saving catch while battling brutal sun in right field.
Lyons, starting for the injured Lance Lynn, allowed two runs on three hits in five innings for his first victory since May 28, 2013, also against the Royals. He walked one, struck out six and ended an eight-game losing streak despite yielding homers to Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez.
“I don’t even think about it,” Lyons (1-0) said of his victory drought at the major-league level. “I just go out there and try to pitch each time, and whatever happens after that happens. It’s a good feeling to get a win. Any time you can get one, you take it, for sure.”
Lyons left after a 24-minute rain delay that began after the fifth inning. The Cardinals’ 3-2 lead was preserved by relievers Matt Belisle, Randy Choate, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal, who collected his 21st save in 22 chances. The bullpen allowed just one hit in four innings, a two-out single by Perez with two outs in the eighth.
“I gave us a chance to win and we were able to hold on the last four innings,” Lyons said. “Overall, I felt good. I felt like I got in a groove a little bit as we went along. ... It wasn’t ideal (for the bullpen) to have to eat up four innings. The rain delay kind of puts a little damper on that. But it was obviously a really good job by them to come in and give us four scoreless.”
Reynolds’ homer, a towering fly to left on a curveball from Jeremy Guthrie in the fifth, broke a 2-2 tie and was Reynolds’ first long ball in 66 at-bats.
“I figured it was either out or it was going to be a can of corn,” Reynolds said. “I jogged (to first) anyway. I barreled it, but I hit it straight up into the air. It’s nice that it’s a little warmer out now and the balls are carrying a little better.”
Reynolds has four homers in 151 at-bats, one every 37.75 at-bats. He began the season with 224 homers, one every 16.9 at-bats. Reynolds is hitting .258, 28 points better than his career mark. His seven infield singles are tied with Heyward for the team lead.
“I’m trying to put more balls in play and see what happens,” Reynolds said. “I’m kind of picking my spots when I want to try to open up and try to pull the ball. I like looking up at the scoreboard and I’m not hitting .190. ... Homers will come and they normally come in bunches. Hopefully, today will kind of kick-start me a little bit. But I like singles, too.”
Heyward, looking into a blinding sun, went into a slide and made a sensational catch on Kendrys Morales’ drive with one out in the eighth and Lorenzo Cain on first. Heyward was looking away when the ball went into his glove and sent Cain scampering back to the bag.
“I saw it off the bat, and that was the last time I saw it until I went to throw it in,” Heyward said. “That one found me. Thank God, it did. If it didn’t, it probably would have scored a run. I felt it hit my glove, and I was surprised when it hit my glove.”
Kansas City manager Ned Yost called it a “lucky catch,” a point Heyward wouldn’t contest.
“I mean, there’s some skill involved with that, but if you watch the replay, he wasn’t even looking (at the ball),” Yost said. “The sun was in his eyes and the ball found his glove. That’s when you start thinking, ‘Whoa, we may be in trouble here.’”
Yost was right. Rosenthal entered the game immediately after Heyward’s catch, and after permitting a single to Perez, retired the final four batters.
“That’s the game,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Heyward’s gem. “That play is even so much more difficult than what he made it look. That’s a game-changing play. (Without it), they’ve got a man on third base and a run in and there’s an absolute mess going on. He somehow stuck with it. Great play.”