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Braves' pitching endures bumps vs. Cardinals

Garcia allows four runs (three earned) in four frames; Gearrin roughed up

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals notched their second straight Grapefruit League win -- an 11-0 victory over the visiting Braves at Roger Dean Stadium - on Thursday behind a 10-strikeout performance from starter Lance Lynn.

Lynn struck out the final eight batters he faced to close his four-inning start, the longest of his three outings this spring. Lynn is the first Cardinals pitcher in at least two decades to strike out 10 in a Spring Training game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

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He allowed only one single, a sharp contrast to Lynn's performance last week, when he was knocked around for five earned runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings.

"He made it look pretty easy," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

After Ernesto Mejia's one-out single in the second, Lynn did not allow another Atlanta hitter to put a ball in play. Of the eight consecutive strikeouts that followed, six were swinging. He struck out everyone in the Braves' starting lineup at least once, except Mejia. Lynn threw 44 of his 66 pitches for strikes.

By the time Lynn exited to a standing ovation, the Cardinals had already built up a four-run lead against Atlanta starter Freddy Garcia. Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina had RBI doubles in the first. An unearned run scored in the second, and shortstop Jhonny Peralta extended the lead with a run-scoring double in the third.

Those were three of the six hits Garcia allowed over four innings. He hadn't pitched past the third in his three previous starts. Garcia walked one, struck out three and has now given up 10 runs (nine earned) over his last two appearances (6 2/3 innings).

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Atlanta, which will host the Cardinals in two days. The afternoon didn't get any better for the Braves after Garcia's exit, either. The Cardinals scored seven times in the sixth inning off Cory Gearrin and Mark Lamm. Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter delivered an RBI single in the inning before Xavier Scruggs knocked a bases-clearing double.

Five relievers, including Randy Choate, Eric Fornataro and Tyler Lyons, preserved the shutout for St. Louis.

Up next: Right-hander David Hale (0-1, 6.75 ERA) gets the start for the Braves against the Rays at 1:05 p.m. ET Friday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Hale allowed two runs over two innings in each of his first two starts of the spring. He has struck out four batters and walked one. With injuries to Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor, the 26-year-old is in contention for a spot in the rotation. Hale pitched well in two starts as a September 2013 callup, allowing just one run over 11 innings.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.

Atlanta Braves, Freddy Garcia, Cory Gearrin