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Lyons makes good impression in spot start

ST. LOUIS -- Tyler Lyons had been sitting in limbo since Sunday, scratched from his start with Triple-A Memphis that day but uncertain of what the Cardinals had planned for him.

He learned on Tuesday that he had been summoned to St. Louis, his role unknown. That assignment was then finalized on Wednesday morning with the Cardinals' decision to bypass Michael Wacha in the rotation and use Lyons in his place. With little advanced warning, Lyons responded with a six-inning no-decision in a 4-3 Cardinals loss to the Nationals that was eventually decided by the bullpens.

"I guess at the end of the day, that's always the goal -- to give your team a chance to win," Lyons said after making his seventh start for the Cardinals this season. "I thought I threw the ball pretty well, minus a few pitches I'd like to have back. Overall, I thought I did an OK job making some pitches when I needed to."

To Lyons' detriment, those few pitches he'd like to have back were all blistered. After striking out six his first time through Washington's order, Lyons tried to sneak a fastball inside to leadoff hitter Jayson Werth. It ran back over the plate and was deposited onto the grass beyond center field.

Ryan Zimmerman, who homered in the first two games of the series, added a pair to his total with solo shots off Lyons in the fourth and sixth. Zimmerman entered the game with a .934 OPS against left-handed pitching this season.

"Both pitches, I definitely didn't execute the pitch," Lyons said. "I don't know what the result would have been had I executed it. The first one was a changeup, left it up, middle of the plate. The second one I was trying to go fastball in -- not only did it not get in, but it was middle and up again."

Lyons scattered just three hits over six innings, the deepest he's gone in a big league start this season. He was plenty fresh, having not pitched in 11 days because of the Cardinals' decision to keep him as an available spot-starting option.

"Very good," manager Mike Matheny said when asked about the impression Lyons made. "He had a nice mix of everything and [was] really impressive at times being able to get the strikeout, use his breaking ball -- the slider and the curveball were both sharp today."

Video: [email protected]: Matheny on 4-3 loss to the Nationals

Lyons may get additional opportunities to build off this outing as the month progresses. With Tim Cooney out for the season due to complications following an appendectomy and Marco Gonzales still trying to get sharp after missing so much time, Lyons remains fixed as the team's sixth starting option. It's an extra arm the club is likely to need as it pulls back on the workload for both Carlos Martinez and Wacha.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for and listen to her podcast.
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