After a seesaw season in 2012, St. Louis Cardinals starter Lance Lynn is on the upswing again.
Lynn pitched seven innings of one-run ball to win his ninth straight decision in a 9-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. The winning streak dates to Sept. 9, 2012, and ties Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants for the NL's longest active streak.
Lynn ended up 18-7 in 2012 and was selected to the All-Star Game. But he struggled after the break and was briefly demoted to the bullpen before working his way back into the rotation.
After losing several pounds in the offseason, Lynn has once again begun strong in 2013.
"I thought I had a pretty good season last year," Lynn said. "I was just trying to build off of that. That's where we're at; just trying to improve every time out. I'm doing that thus far."
Lynn (4-0) gave up just two hits while striking out nine and walking three in a game that saw Pirates starter Jonathan Sanchez, manager Clint Hurdle and hitting coach Jay Bell ejected.
Pedro Alvarez did manage to snap Lynn's scoreless streak at 14 2-3 innings with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
Carlos Beltran supported Lynn by homering from both sides of the plate and driving in three runs despite suffering from the flu.
"I felt bad yesterday and today," Beltran said. "I remember last year I was very sick and I had a good game against the White Sox. I told them before the game, 'I feel like I'm going to have a good game; I feel sick.'"
Matt Carpenter and Beltran started the game with home runs for the Cardinals, who have won four straight and five of six. It was the first time the Cardinals went back-to-back to lead off a game since April 16, 2004, against Colorado.
Sanchez (0-3) lasted just two more batters. He and Hurdle were ejected after Sanchez hit Cardinals cleanup hitter Allen Craig up high with a pitch.
Home plate umpire Tim Timmons immediately ejected Sanchez, who did not retire a batter, after Craig was beaned. Hurdle came out to argue and he also was ejected.
Cubs 4, Marlins 2 -- At Miami: Anthony Rizzo had two home runs and four RBIs to power the Cubs to back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Rizzo's second career two-homer game gave him eight on the season, the most by a Cubs left-handed hitter in April. Billy Williams (1970) and Henry Rodriguez (2000) each hit seven.
Dodgers 7, Brewers 5 -- At Los Angeles: Adrian Gonzalez drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a two-out double in the seventh inning, Carl Crawford homered and Los Angeles beat Milwaukee.
Justin Sellers greeted reliever Burke Badenhop (0-2) with a leadoff single in the seventh and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Jerry Hairston Jr. Nick Punto drew a two-out walk from Michael Gonzalez, and Adrian Gonzalez followed with a drive off the glove of center fielder Carlos Gomez as Sellers and Punto scored to give Los Angeles a 5-4 lead.
Nationals 1, Reds 0 -- At Washington: Jordan Zimmermann was terrific in his second complete game of the season and Washington limited Cincinnati to one hit for the second straight game.
Phillies 4, Mets 0 -- At New York: Kyle Kendrick pitched the best game of his career, throwing a three-hitter for Philadelphia and getting home-run help from Ryan Howard.
Padres 2, Giants 1 -- At San Diego: Andrew Cashner pitched six effective innings and contributed a big hit at the plate, helping San Diego beat Tim Lincecum and San Francisco.
Rockies 6, Diamondbacks 3 -- At Phoenix: Troy Tulowitzki's bases-loaded triple in the fifth inning helped lift Colorado to a win over Arizona.
White Sox 5, Rays 4 -- At Chicago: Jake Peavy pitched well into the seventh and Chicago supported him with three homers to rally from a three-run deficit and beat Tampa Bay.
Hector Gimenez, Tyler Greene and Conor Gillaspie all homered for the White Sox. Rangers 4, Twins 3 -- At Minneapolis: Adrian Beltre homered and rookie Justin Grimm won his second consecutive start as Texas beat Minnesota.
Yankees 6, Blue Jays 4 -- At New York: David Phelps struck out a career-high nine in four innings after relieving the injured Ivan Nova, Chris Stewart threw out two baserunners to quash potential rallies as New York beat Toronto.
Red Sox 7, Astros 3 -- At Boston: David Ross cleared the Green Monster twice with solo home runs and Ryan Dempster struck out 10 for Boston in a win over Houston.
Orioles 3, Athletics 0 -- At Oakland, Calif.: Wei-Yin Chen pitched eight strong innings, giving up only two hits to help Baltimore beat Oakland.
Tigers 10, Braves 0 -- At Detroit: Anibal Sanchez struck out 17 in eight innings for Detroit, setting a team record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game as the Tigers shut down Atlanta.