After being of the disabled list for weeks, Cardinals’ starter Lance Lynn made his return to the starting mound as the Cardinals looked to sweep the Miami Marlins on Thursday evening. St. Louis won the first game 4-3, and came up big during the second game with a 6-1 victory.
And on Thursday night, St. Louis completed the sweep.
Kozma had three hits, and Lynn threw six shutout innings, while St. Louis won the game 5-1.
For the Cardinals, while Lynn (4-4, 3.07 ERA) got the start, a former Cardinal got the start for the Marlins: Dan Haren (6-4, 3.19).
The game began with a 1-2-3 inning by Haren, and Lynn followed with a 1-2-3 inning of his own, including a strikeout of Derek Dietrich. Both veteran starters also threw 1-2-3 innings during the second, as the third inning was on its way.
During the top of the third inning, Pete Kozma was hit by a pitch with one out, and Lynn followed with a successful sacrifice bunt to advance Kozma to second. Kolten Wong would take advantage of the sacrifice by hitting a double, as Kozma then scored to make it 1-0 St. Louis.
In the top of the fourth inning, despite a single by Jason Heyward, who has been on an unbelievable hot streak lately, Haren bounced back to get out of the inning. With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, powerhouse Giancarlo Stanton hit a single, putting the Marlins in a good position to tie the game.
But much like Haren before him, Lynn was able to bounce back and get out of the inning.
The game remained scoreless through the fifth and sixth innings, but it was the seventh inning where the Cardinals broke the game wide open and set the stage to sweep Miami.
It started with Jon Jay hitting a single to left field. Randal Grichuk followed with a single of his own, to put two runners on for Kozma. He laid down a sacrifice bunt, that scored Jay to make it 2-0. Kozma wound up singling on the play as the Marlins tried to throw to second base, but Dee Gordon dropped the catch, keeping two runners on.
Mike Dunn entered the game to place Haren, and started by facing Greg Garcia, who was pinch hitting for Lynn.
After a nearly 10-pitch at-bat, Wong walked with the bases loaded to make it 3-0 Cardinals. Matt Carpenter struck out swinging next for the first out, and Steve Cishek entered the game to replace Dunn on the mound. Mark Reynolds hit a sacrifice fly with one out to make it a 4-0 lead for the Cardinals. After an intentional walk to Heyward, Yadier Molina grounded out to end the inning.
Matt Belisle pitched the bottom of the seventh in relief of Lynn, whose final line for the evening was: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 Ks.
In the top of the eighth inning, Grichuk singled to bring up Kozma, who singled to center field, scoring Grichuk to make it 5-0 Cardinals. Entering the game, Kozma had an average of .093. After the game, his average rose 47 points to .140 on the season. He had five hits all year, yet had three in Thursday night’s game.
Seth Maness pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth, and Carlos Villanueva allowed only one run in the bottom of the ninth as the Cardinals completed the sweep in a 5-1 victory.
St. Louis improves to 48-24 on the season with the win, while Miami dropped to 30-44. Haren loses his fifth game of the season while Lynn wins his fifth game of the season.
Tomorrow, as a big series against the Cubs begins, John Lackey will get the start on the mound.
(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)