ST. LOUIS (AP) — Lance Lynn reached double figures in wins before the All-Star break for the third straight year and the St. Louis Cardinals are charging hard in the NL Central.
Still, after they made it three straight over the Pittsburgh Pirates there was reason for some concern.
All-Star catcher Yadier Molina sprained his right thumb on a slide and was taken out for a pinch-hitter in the third inning. He was undergoing an MRI as the Cardinals finished their 5-2 victory Wednesday night.
“I hope everything’s all right,” Lynn said. “You definitely don’t want something to happen.”
Results of the MRI were not available after the game and manager Mike Matheny said the team would re-evaluate the injury on Thursday.
“He went through some tests and you could feel some irritation there, obviously,” Matheny said. “He was still trying, he got it taped up and was convinced he was going back in, but we had to get it looked at.”
Rookie Kolten Wong homered for the second straight game and Matt Adams had three hits and two RBIs. The Cardinals will go for a four-game sweep over the NL Central rival they beat in the division series last fall on Thursday.
“We’re getting great starting pitching, great pitching out of the bullpen and our offense is swinging it like we know how to,” Adams said.
The defending National League champions are two games behind the Central-leading Brewers.
“I would say September is when you really start paying attention to what’s going on,” Lynn said. “But it’s always good to be right there, no matter what time it is.”
Neil Walker homered and doubled for Pittsburgh, which had won 12 of 15 entering the series and dropped the first two on game-winning, ninth-inning homers by Adams and Wong.
“We’ve been playing good baseball,” catcher Russell Martin said. “The Cardinals are just playing a little better.”
Rookie Brandon Cumpton (3-3) started in place of injured Gerrit Cole and was charged with four runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings.
“He wasn’t sharp, fell behind in counts and the fastball was up more than down,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He wasn’t living on the edges with the fastball as he normally does.”
Lynn (10-6) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings and has 32 wins before the All-Star break his first three seasons in the rotation. The right-hander is tied for most pre-All-Star wins with Detroit’s Max Scherzer over that stretch and is the first Cardinals pitcher to do it in three straight seasons since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson totaled 34 wins from 1968-70.
“That’s pretty awesome to be in the same sentence,” Lynn said. “He was a great pitcher.”
Walker’s 12th homer leading off the second was the first allowed by Lynn at home this season.
Adams’ two-run double in the first put the Cardinals ahead to stay and he added two singles to give him 12 in the last six games. Wong hit his fourth homer off Justin Wilson in the eighth.
Molina was voted to his sixth straight All-Star team Sunday and is a starter for the fourth time. He slid feet-first into third base advancing on a groundout in the second and came up shaking the right hand after planting it a bit for balance.
Matt Holliday had two hits, two walks and an RBI and Jhonny Peralta had an RBI double for St. Louis.
Cumpton was in constant trouble and the Cardinals missed a chance to bust it open by stranding nine runners the first four innings.
Trevor Rosenthal worked the ninth for his 27th save in 31 chances. Peter Bourjos made a leaping catch for the final out at the wall in center field with a man on to rob Martin of extra bases.