Lance Lynn appears to have put the roughest patch of his All-Star season behind him. The St. Louis Cardinals hope he is in winning form this afternoon for the finale of a three-game set with the Chicago Cubs.
Heading towards his first All-Star appearance, Lynn went 0-2 with a 9.98 earned run average in three starts from June 19-30 before picking up a victory over the Colorado Rockies on July 5. The right-hander moved to 11-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 18 starts thanks to six scoreless innings of four-hit ball.
Lynn then came out of the break with a solid outing in Milwaukee on Monday. He struck out 10 without a walk, scattering a run and six hits in seven innings of a no-decision.
The 25-year-old's outstanding season includes a pair of victories over the Cubs in which he has yielded two runs and struck out 12 in 13 1/3 frames.
Cubs starter Travis Wood was on his own outstanding run until running into the Miami Marlins on Tuesday. He hopes for better results today.
Wood had yielded three earned runs over a four-start winning streak, but was drilled for a career high-tying eight runs on eight hits, two homers and two walks in 4 2/3 innings of a 9-5 defeat. It was his first loss since June 14 and his shortest outing of the season.
"He just didn't come out with much command," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He couldn't keep the ball down, everything was up."
Wood is 4-4 with a 3.92 ERA in 11 starts this season. The 25-year-old has never lost to the Cardinals, going 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three starts.
The Cardinals have won the first two games of this series and broke open a pitchers' duel with an historic inning on Saturday. St. Louis clubbed seven doubles in a 12-run seventh frame, morphing a close contest into a 12-0 win.
Carlos Beltran, David Freese, Jon Jay, Skip Schumaker and Matt Holliday all doubled while Allen Craig delivered a pair of two-baggers in the record-tying frame.
"I'm a firm believer that hitting is contagious," said Freese. "Obviously, innings like that don't come around very often, but when you can string hits together it keeps the train moving and a lot of the time that is how you get big innings."
In total, St. Louis sent 17 hitters to the plate, tied a franchise record with 12 runs in an inning and took a place next to the Boston Bees, who also ripped seven doubles in an inning on Aug. 25, 1936, against the Cardinals.
Jake Westbrook received the win after tossing seven scoreless inning on three hits and two walks. Westbrook added five strikeouts for the Cardinals, who had lost five of six before this series.
Justin Germano took the loss in his Cubs debut. Starter Matt Garza left after tossing three scoreless frames due to cramping in his right triceps and Germano came on to toss three-plus inning of solid relief. He gave up one run on four hits.
"Anything to do with your elbow area as a pitcher you get nervous," Garza said. "I'm still young, so I wanted to take the precaution and I said something."
The Cardinals did most of their damage against James Russell, who entered the game with a 2.45 earned run average. That number, however, ballooned to 3.63 after the left-hander allowed six runs in two-thirds of an inning.
The Cubs have lost back-to-back games after winning six of seven.
The Cardinals own a slight 6-4 lead over the Cubs in the 2012 series.