Baseball / Sports

Lynn blanks Yankees

ST. LOUIS -- The way Lance Lynn tells it there has not been a day since he joined the Cardinals' major-league rotation that Adam Wainwright missed a chance to chide him for what he didn't have.

An All-Star by the age of 25, an 18-game winner soon after, a 200-inning pitcher last season, and the starter for 146 professional games, Lynn had done a lot, except he had never thrown the final pitch in any of those starts. Everybody in the clubhouse knew that because Wainwright was there to remind Lynn that he didn't have a complete game, let alone a shutout.

"He thinks I'm too good not to have one," Lynn said. "So he made sure I knew about it."

Wainwright will have to find a new point to needle.

In his 147th professional start, his 75th in the majors, Lynn held the New York Yankees to five hits and threw his first career shutout. Lynn needed a career-high 126 pitches and got home runs from Allen Craig and Matt Holliday to complete a 6-0 gem Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. After Brian Roberts flew out to Holliday for the final out, catcher Yadier Molina embraced Lynn near the mound and congratulated him on finishing his first.

Holliday made sure Lynn got the last baseball thrown.

Jason Motte smashed a shaving-cream pie in his face.

"That's something we don't do much around here," Lynn said. "I guess the bullpen has different birds. Imagine that. ... Since my first day in the major leagues that's your goal always to throw a complete-game shutout. Every time you go out there that's your goal -- not give up any runs and finish it. Took me way too long."

The Cardinals won for the 10th time in their past 13 games with one of the more well-rounded games of the season. A club that spent most of April tugging in opposite directions -- pitching surging, offense lagging; bullpen perking, defense stumbling -- now has most facets in synch. Holliday homered for the first time since April 28, which also was the last time he and Craig homered in the same game. Lynn threw the third consecutive start of at least seven innings by the rotation, and in those 24 innings from Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Lynn the trio of starters allowed three earned runs. Total.

Lynn kept his defense busy with 15 groundouts, and the Cardinals' infielders kept Lynn's nine innings spotless with a series of slick plays. Second baseman Kolten Wong had three alone, including a back-foot throw to start a double play. For contrast, Yankees starter David Phelps, a Hazelwood West grad, had his start complicated by two errors in the same four-run inning.

Phelps (1-2), the top prep prospect coming out of Missouri in 2005, left 26 tickets for friends and family, and when he looked into the crowd he also saw his advanced algebra teacher (eighth grade) and his calculus teacher (high school). A coach from elementary school waved. They saw him throw 28 pitches in the first inning and then face nine batters in the decisive fourth inning as the Cardinals turned two Yankees errors into three of the four runs.

"It was a frustrating night overall, but coming back home and seeing people really care, it means a lot," Phelps said. "I didn't do a very good job getting out of the gate."

Lynn did.

The familiarity the Cardinals were able to get against Phelps by getting him to throw so many pitches the first time through the order paid off. The second time the Cardinals saw the righty, three of the first four batters in the inning got hits. Matt Adams' ground-rule double scored Matt Carpenter. An intentional walk to Yadier Molina loaded the bases, and then the errors came. Kelly Johnson failed to hold on to the ball as he applied a tag at first. One run scored. Roberts whiffed on a grounder that skipped merrily into right field. Two runs scored. That was plenty for Lynn, who had held the Yankees to one hit at that point and was able to exploit the Yankees' lack of familiarity with him.

One Yankee reached third base safely against Lynn. The Cardinals' righty did not allow a ball out of the infield during the first four innings other than Brian McCann's leadoff double in the second inning. In the fourth inning, Lynn walked two, including a strategic walk to McCann, one of the few Yankees who had faced him, and then got a double play to end the inning.

"I didn't use my sinker much back then," Lynn said. "They were caught off guard by the sinker, didn't expect me to use it as much as you can. I elevated later in the game to get fly balls when I needed it. Sometimes you've got to do it backward."

Craig extended the Cardinals' lead to 5-0 with his fifth home run of the season. Holliday tagged reliever Alfredo Aceves for his third homer of the season. The Cardinals entered the game with seven home runs as a team this month.

Nine players had at least that many in May, individually.

"Those trends are a little bit more made on the outside," Holliday said. "As hitters inside this room, we're trying to go out and grind at-bats to get ourselves right so we can contribute to the whole. We're all confident in who we are as a team."

Confident in who Lynn could be as a pitcher was why Wainwright kept after him. The Cardinals' ace jabs all of the pitchers in the rotation with some sort of accomplishment they don't have. He predicted Shelby Miller would throw a no-hitter this year, and told him so. He often kids Michael Wacha and Miller about finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting -- to him. Lynn had thrown 886 2/3 innings as a pro. In the majors, batters had 2,000 plate appearances against him. Wainwright's prod was obvious: Get 27 outs, already.

Lynn had finished the eighth inning on 116 pitches.

He didn't need Wainwright to help lobby manager Mike Matheny for the ninth. He just haggled. Lynn said he had 25 pitches to give. Matheny described some "deliberating." They settled on nine, though Matheny said Lynn would be out the moment a runner got on base.

Not one did.

It took Lynn 10 pitches to do what he hadn't, what he has wanted.

Wainwright was one of the first to congratulate him.

"'Bout time," Lynn heard him say.

(c)2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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