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STL@PHI: Lynn strikes out eight over seven scoreless

There may be no place like home, but that doesn't mean the Cardinals know it all that well.

After yet another road trip concluded Wednesday in Washington, St. Louis treks back home to Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals will greet the visiting Pirates for a three-game series beginning Friday.

St. Louis has played just six home games so far, which is the fewest among National League teams. And it's an important upcoming series -- one that kicks off a stretch of 12 consecutive games against the other four NL Central opponents.

St. Louis went 6-3 on its road trip after sweeping the defending NL East-champion Nationals. The Pirates have won 12 of 16 since starting the year 1-5 and have won six of their past seven after a 6-4 win against the Phillies on Thursday.

To combat the pesky Pirates, the Cardinals are hoping to have Matt Adams back after being held out of the Washington series because of right oblique tightness.

He met with doctors in St. Louis on Thursday and took swings on Wednesday, a day after he resumed throwing and fielding grounders.

Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn, hoping to win for the fourth time in as many starts and improve to a perfect 4-0 on Friday, is coming off his best start of the young season after he pitched seven innings of one-hit ball Saturday against the Phillies.

"He just had a whole different demeanor, a whole different disposition," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We have talked about him going out with an edge, and that's how he pitches the best."

It was an improvement over his previous start, which came against the Pirates. He was handed an 8-1 lead in Pittsburgh after two innings, and barely lasted five innings in a 10-6 win.

Meanwhile, the Pirates will turn to Jonathan Sanchez, as the lefty looks for his first win of the year.

He turned in his second straight outing of 3 1/3 innings or less Sunday, when he made it through just three against the Braves, surrendering two earned runs and three walks on four hits. His ERA rests at 11.12 after the 74-pitch start, for which he was credited with a no-decision.

"Jonathan got us to a point where we felt we could manage the game," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He wasn't sharp, and by no means is he happy, but everybody threw in something. Everybody got big outs."

Sanchez has logged 6 1/3 innings in his past two starts over 11 days -- working around a rained-out start April 16 against St. Louis -- and allowed 12 hits and 11 runs.

Pirates: Melancon, Grilli get finale off
Mark Melancon, who has allowed only one run in his first 13 innings of work, and closer Jason Grilli, who is a perfect 9-for-9 in save opportunities to start the season, were unavailable for the final leg of a four-game set in Philadelphia on Thursday.

It did not hurt the Pirates, who earned a 6-4 win and saw Tony Watson pick up his first career save.

"Neither Mark [who pitched four of the past five days] nor Jason [four of the past six] are available," Hurdle said. "Not having a closer and an eighth-inning guy has nothing to do with bullpen being overworked. It has to do with us having the lead late in games back-to-back nights."

Hurdle views only Melancon as a concern at this time, with the amount of days off he's had recently playing into the decision.

"We've been able to manage," Hurdle said. "The [amount of] appearances for Mark are a red line for me. Everybody else is in a place we're OK with."

Cardinals: Jay working on swing
The Cardinals' lineup could be missing Jon Jay, as he's often sat against lefties this season. But the center fielder has been focusing more on the timing of his swing, which is complicated in nature because it includes more movement than other players.

"I feel like this year, I've had games where I've been consistent and games where I haven't been," Jay said. "It's just a combination of things. When things are going bad, it's bad. I haven't lost confidence in what kind of player I am and what I can bring to the table. This happens to everyone. It's not fun when you're dealing with it in the beginning of the season."

Shane Robinson has been drawing most of the center-field starts against lefties.

Worth noting
• Carlos Beltran has hits in 12 of his past 14 games. In that span, he's hitting .320 (16-for-50) with four home runs and eight RBIs.

• The Cardinals are 12-3 when leading after seven innings and 12-0 when leading after eight.

• Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez has had a great run at Busch Stadium over his past 10 games. He's hit .375 (15-for-40) in that stretch with three doubles, four home runs and 14 RBIs. Comments