LOS ANGELES (AP) - No Sports Illustrated cover jinx for these Cardinals. They just keep on winning.
Lance Lynn pitched two-hit ball over six innings, and David Freese and Allen Craig each homered and drove in three runs, helping St. Louis beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-0 on Friday night for their third win in a row and 11th in its last 13 road games.
Lynn appears with the rest of the rotation on this week's SI cover in a photo inspired by a cover from the Oct. 7, 1968, issue that featured Roger Maris, Tim McCarver, Bob Gibson, Mike Shannon and Lou Brock.
``It's a cool photo,' Freese said.
Lynn (7-1) struck out nine and walked one for the NL Central leaders, who earned their eighth shutout win of the season. The only hits he gave up were a single to Carl Crawford to open the game and a double to Juan Uribe in the third.
The right-hander left after just 77 pitches because he felt his lower back tighten up going down to his hamstring.
``It just flared up on me, so we decided it was a good time to shut me down,' Lynn said. ``As the game went on, it kept getting tighter and tighter. Wish I could have gone longer. With the run support and day off yesterday, it was a good time not to push it.'
Lynn is averaging better than a strikeout per inning this season with 66 strikeouts in 61 innings. He relied exclusively on his fastball the first time through the Dodgers' lineup and then mixed it up the second time through.
``That's the plan going in every start for me,' he said.
The Dodgers' fifth loss in seven games wasn't how they had planned to open a stretch of 20 games in 20 days.
``We didn't do anything with him,' manager Don Mattingly said about Lynn. ``He threw a lot of fastballs through the course of the game and we didn't seem to be able to get on them.'
Freese played for the first time since cutting his right thumb on Sunday. He had the stitches removed although the cut remained open, but he said it affects him more throwing than hitting. His two hits on Sunday at San Diego were his first since May 4.
``It's feeling good. I feel strong,' Freese said about his swing. ``The last few games it felt good. It's nice to join the fun.'
He improved against left-handed pitching, too, coming in 3 for 25. The Cardinals were hitting .223 against leftys and the team improved to 5-5.
``We're still trying to figure that out,' Freese said. ``Leftys give us trouble sometimes.'
Craig continued his tear in May, when he's batting .363 with three homers and 17 RBI in 21 games this month.
``I believe in myself. I feel like I'm going to get the job done every time,' he said. ``The guys in front of me have done a great job getting on base.'
The last-place Dodgers' loss came a few hours after team president Stan Kasten said Mattingly was not in immediate danger of being fired.
``I do expect things to turn around,' Kasten said before the game. ``I expect Donnie to be here for a long time.'
Chris Capuano (1-3) allowed six runs - five earned - and six hits in five-plus innings. The left-hander struck out four and walked three.
``With Allen Craig and David Freese, if you're going away to them, you've got to get the ball away,' he said. ``If you miss over the outer third or outer half and the ball is coming back to them, they can hurt you.'
Freese's two-run homer into the Dodgers' bullpen in left field extended the Cardinals' lead to 6-0 in the sixth. His RBI double in the second drove in Jon Jay with their first run. Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis went down for a few minutes after Jay collided with him, but stayed in the game.
``I'm glad he's not hurt and nothing bad happened for both of us,' Jay said.
Craig homered with two outs in the fifth after his two-run double in the third made it 3-0.
``I just started rushing out there and was getting a little frustrated and stuff, and was just kind of speeding things up,' Capuano said. ``When you're rushing, your location gets a little off.'
St. Louis tacked on another run in the seventh when reliever Matt Guerrier gave up consecutive walks to Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday to open the inning. He then hit Craig to load the bases before Yadier Molina's sacrifice fly scored Beltran.
Dodger sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier were a combined 0 for 6, with Kemp striking out twice. Ethier returned to the starting lineup after being benched by Mattingly three times in six games on the team's road trip to Atlanta and Milwaukee.
Notes: The Dodgers were shut out for the fourth time this season and the first since losing 1-0 to Arizona on April 14. ... The Cardinals improved to 17-8 on the road, the most wins away from home in the majors this season. ... Mattingly said SS Hanley Ramirez, on the DL with a strained left hamstring, will play four or five rehab games. ``I don't think he's quite as close as it looks,' the manager said. ... Dodgers OF Jerry Hairston Jr., on the DL with a strained left groin, played six innings at third base and went 0 for 3 in his first rehab start for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He's expected to play six innings there on Saturday.
The Associated Press News Service
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