When Lance Lynn threw his final pitch Thursday for strike three to escape a jam, he turned toward center field and screamed something with adrenaline-fueled fervor.
Was it rated PG?
“I don’t remember,” he said, poker-faced.
Whatever Lynn hollered, he earned his moment of triumph, pitching six shutout innings in his first outing since June 7 to help the St. Louis Cardinals complete a three-game sweep by beating Miami 5-1.
Lynn (5-4), who had been on the disabled list with a strained forearm, allowed only two hits and lowered his ERA to 2.84.
“That was a good one to come back to,” he said.
“He was awesome,” teammate Pete Kozma said. “He was doing what he did before he went on the DL.”
Backup infielder Kozma, who came into the game hitless in his past 21 at-bats, singled three times, scored twice and drove in a run for his second RBI this year. His average rose to from .093 to .140.
“A good night all the way around for Pete,” manager Mike Matheny said. “When it gets to the point where you’re hitting .100, you really start pressing a little bit. I say that from experience.”
The sweep was the first for the Cardinals in Miami since Aug. 4-7, 2011, and their first on the road this year.
“That’s news to me,” Matheny said.
The rarity of the road sweep is surprising given that the Cardinals (48-24) have the best record in the majors. They went 5-3 on a three-city trip to move a season-high 24 games above .500.
Miami (30-44) fell a season-worst 14 games under .500.
“It’s very hard,” losing pitcher Dan Haren said in the clubhouse. “Obviously it’s pretty much dead silent in here now. I don’t know where to gauge it. Things aren’t going well.”
Haren (6-5) allowed four runs in six-plus innings.
Miami’s Adeiny Hechavarria hit his fourth homer off the foul pole with two outs in the ninth to avert a shutout. Four St. Louis relievers completed a four-hitter.
The Marlins have lost seven of their past eight games while scoring a total of 17 runs, and their defense is slumping, too. Second baseman Dee Gordon had two errors, doubling his season total.
The Marlins’ leadoff batter in the third inning reached second base, but Lynn escaped. He walked consecutive batters with two outs in the sixth before striking out Marcell Ozuna with his final pitch, preserving a 1-0 lead.
“That could have gone in a real bad direction,” Matheny said. “Fortunately he was able to finish it off.”
Miami went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position, and 1 for 17 in the series in those situations.
“We’re 2 for 28 our last two series with runners in scoring position,” manager Dan Jennings said. “That’s not going to get it done.”
Lynn improved to 4-0 lifetime in six games against the Marlins.
Haren retired the first seven batters before his pitch brushed Kozma, who scored on a two-out double by Kolten Wong.
The Cardinals added three runs in the seventh while hitting one ball hard. They reached on back-to-back bunt singles, Mike Dunn walked in a run, and Kozma scored on Mark Reynolds’ popup to Gordon, who caught the ball in short right field with his back to the plate.
Kozma played for SS Jhonny Peralta, who was given the day off and was out of the starting lineup for only the second time this season.
Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia, hobbled by a cramp in the eighth inning Wednesday, was back in the weight room Thursday and on target to make his next start as scheduled. “At this point, he’s going to try to stay on his normal program,” Matheny said. “If anything doesn’t feel right, we'll back off.”