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Lynn bends, doesn't break when Cards need him

After allowing pair of runs, pitcher buckles down, holds LA scoreless for rest of start

LOS ANGELES -- In a tension-filled Dodger Stadium, with 53,992 fans on their feet and Game 4 of the National League Championship Series teetering in the balance, Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn appeared ready to implode.

Lynn struggled in his first start of the postseason -- a home outing against the Pirates in the NL Division Series -- but this outing was different. When the Dodgers -- who had already scored twice in the fourth inning -- put runners on the corners with just one out, the right-hander got the job done.

"I was able to make some pitches after that," Lynn said shortly after his team defeated the Dodgers, 4-2, on Tuesday night and took a commanding 3-1 lead in the NLCS. "I was able to get Skip [Schumaker] there rolling into a double play, and that was big."

"Big" may be an understatement for Lynn, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief in Game 1 of the NLCS. He was making his first start since Game 2 of the NLDS and responded with 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball.

Lynn got into jams and certainly wasn't perfect, but when the palpable tension inside Dodger Stadium was at its peak, the 26-year-old righty executed with poise.

"I'd say [it was] a real gutsy performance with a lot of heart," Cards manager Mike Matheny said. "He got himself in trouble a couple times. [He] wasn't afraid to make tough pitches in tough situations and put people in scoring position to get to a spot that he wanted to be. Then, he made the pitches he had to. He had a good rhythm going, and he used his defense effectively."

Although the game almost got away from Lynn in the fourth inning, he was able to attack the Dodgers' offense because of the 3-0 lead the Cardinals spotted him in the third. After Matt Carpenter drove home the first run of the game with an RBI single, Matt Holliday launched a two-run home run to left field.

"It's a good feeling," Lynn said. "I felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well, and to get three runs right there gives you a little bit of breathing room to where you don't have to try to make a perfect pitch every time. They got after me in the fourth, but after that, I was able to make some pitches."

In doing so, Lynn led his team to within one victory of its second World Series appearance in the past three seasons.

Although the Cards still have to win another NLCS game, Carlos Beltran -- playing in his 16th Major League season and fourth postseason -- has never been to a World Series, and he couldn't help but think about how close he is after Lynn's effort.

"You've got to think about it, because that's the only way that you're going to be motivated to get there," Beltran said. "Today was a good win. Tomorrow, we have a good pitcher to face, [Zack] Greinke, and it's going to be a tough one."

William Boor is an associate reporter for
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