PITTSBURGH • Other than the fact that the Cardinals still should be hitting in the first inning, they started their 10-game trip in a mostly satisfactory manner Monday night.
Scoring seven runs or more in an inning for the third time in their last eight games, the Cardinals outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-6 despite boxing a potentially big inning in the first with some unfortunate baserunning.
Lance Lynn, who allowed the first run by a Cardinals starter in 35 innings, labored through five innings, giving up four runs. But he gained his second win, with relief from Joe Kelly, Marc Rzepczynski and Mitchell Boggs, who pitched the ninth but did not gain a save because the Cardinals were too far ahead.
Afterward, manager Mike Matheny stopped by Lynn’s locker and gave him a pat on the leg and a consoling word.
Lynn said Matheny told him, “You’ve got to love a good offense, right?”
Lynn could only agree.
“The way the offense performed tonight. … I’ve got to be better,” he said.
The signature inning for the Cardinals was the seven-run second. David Freese walked with one out and Pete Kozma bounced a double over the left-field wall. Lynn grounded out but Jon Jay, whose stoppage at third in the first inning had created quite the contretemps, rescued this inning with a two-run double to right. Jay went to third on a wild pitch and Matt Carpenter walked.
Matt Holliday, who had a sure run-scoring double turned into a non-run-scoring single in the first, reached base when Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes threw high to first after gloving a slow roller.
Jay scored and Allen Craig chased in two more runs with a double. Carlos Beltran, six for nine with runners in scoring position, singled home Craig and then, showing no signs of being bothered by his sore toe, scored from first on Yadier Molina’s double.
“That whole inning, once we got to the top (of the lineup), those were impressive at-bats they were grinding out,” Matheny said. “There’s a simplicity about every at-bat they take, like it’s going to be their last one. It was impressive to watch. I didn’t think we were going to need that many (runs).”
Righthander James McDonald was removed from the game after the seventh run of the inning, none too soon for the grumbling PNC Park fans — who numbered only 10,539 on a pleasant evening.
Craig drove in three runs for the night and Holliday two — on a third-inning double — but he should have had more.
Jay singled to right center to start the game and Carpenter got an infield hit to third. Holliday then rifled a ball high off the 21-foot-high Roberto Clemente wall in right center.
Jay had hesitated, thinking he would tag if the ball was caught and Carpenter, in turn, also hesitated after getting near second.
When the ball hit off the wall over right fielder Travis Snider and then caromed back toward the infield, everybody was in motion again. But Jay was stopped at third by third-base coach Jose Oquendo.
“I didn’t think (Jay) was going to make it,” Matheny said. “Great decision by Oquendo.”
Carpenter had rounded second but he, too, had to halt. Holliday, apparently not seeing the whole situation in front of him, headed for second which, of course, was occupied.
In the midst of this fire drill, the lead runners correctly held their positions and Holliday was the fall guy, being tagged out by first baseman Garrett Jones between first and second after a brief rundown.
Still, the Cardinals had runners at second and third and one out. Craig hit a hopper toward third that was fumbled by Pedro Alvarez. But Carpenter ran right into the play and was tagged for the second out as Jay scored.
The whole inning “was a shame, wasn’t it?” Matheny asked.
“When the outfielder turned his back, (Jay) probably had a chance to take off running. But he was being cautious to make sure he at least got to third base with one out. The next play, Matt (Carpenter) knows that ball’s got to get through. That was a mistake. Jay’s play was more cautious, almost overcautious.
“It was just kind of a perfect storm of things that could go wrong. It was one of those innings that you’d like to forget about, baserunning-wise.”
Lynn allowed a run in the first and three in the third as he needed 99 pitches to qualify for the win.
“I would have loved to have gone deeper in the game, especially with that run support,’’ Lynn said. “And I wasn’t able to do that.
“When you have a 10-1 lead, you’re trying to get quick outs and not have long innings and I wasn’t able to do that, either. That was the most frustrating part. You have a nine-run lead and you give up three. You can’t do that. But I’ll be better next time out.”
Matheny said, “He was fortunate the offense picked him up. He was close to coming out (before the end of the fifth). He’s the first one who’s going to tell you he expects more from himself.”
Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist agreed that the word “survived” best would have described Lynn’s efforts.
Kelly, who hadn’t worked since April 7, pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.
“Joe Kelly was the pitching bright spot of tonight,” Matheny said.
Rzepczynski, absent from duty since April 8, wasn’t quite as efficient as Kelly, allowing two runs in the eighth to make it 10-6 before retiring dangerous Andrew McCutchen.
Boggs allowed a leadoff walk and then a two-out hit after a double play in the ninth before he ended the game on a strikeout.
“We were one hitter away from bringing in (Edward) Mujica,” said Matheny, who had said before the game there would be some adjustments in how he used his late-inning pitchers.
By Rick Hummel email@example.com 314-340-8196