St. Louis left-hander Tyler Lyons had a lead before he even threw a single pitch in his MLB debut.
Behind an early outburst and solid work from the rookie hurler, the Cardinals topped the San Diego Padres, 5-3, in the rubber match of a three-game set at Petco Park.
Lyons (1-0) held the Padres to just one run and four hits over seven innings, with the lone blemish being a Jedd Gyorko solo shot. The 25-year-old Lyons made the start in place of Jaime Garcia, who is reportedly set to undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Yadier Molina had four hits and knocked in a run for St. Louis, which has won four of its last six games.
It was another brief outing for San Diego's Burch Smith (0-1), who for the second time in three career starting assignments failed to make it through the second inning. He was optioned to Triple-A Tucson following the game.
"Whenever you do have a bad outing, the doubts start creeping in. I know that I'm better than that and I'm not going to let it affect me," Smith said.
St. Louis quickly jumped on the rookie righty, plating three runs in the first.
Matt Carpenter walked to begin the game and scored on Matt Holliday's one-out triple. Allen Craig followed with an RBI single and later came home on a Daniel Descalso two-out double. Smith retired his counterpart with the bases loaded to avoid further damage.
"It's always a better situation to go out and have a little bit of a lead," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said about Lyons' confidence when taking the mound for the first time.
When Carpenter and Carlos Beltran hit back-to-back singles to open the second, San Diego manager Bud Black removed Smith in favor of Tim Stauffer. The Cardinals went up 4-0 in the frame when Holliday grounded into a double play.
Stauffer gave up a two-out RBI single to Molina in the fifth.
Gyorko put San Diego on the board with a leadoff blast in the seventh, and the Padres looked to rally against the St. Louis bullpen.
Each of the final two innings began with consecutive singles for the home team. They came away empty in the eighth, but a two-out base hit by Alexi Amarista off Edward Mujica brought home Gyorko and Will Venable. The comeback bid came up short, however, when Chris Denorfia grounded out to short to end the game.
To make room for Lyons, the Cardinals placed reliever Fernando Salas on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation ... Beltran had three hits ... Stauffer gave up eight hits and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings.