MIAMI _ After brilliant efforts in his first two big-league starts, lefthanded rookie Tyler Lyons’ last three outings for the Cardinals have resulted in increasingly diminished returns.
They likely will give manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist at least pause as to whether they would leave him in the rotation to face the power-hitting Texas Rangers next Friday in St. Louis although Matheny said after today's game it was too early to make any kind of determination like that.
Lyons allowed just one run over seven innings in his first two starts, both victories, against San Diego and Kansas City. But, in successive losses to San Francisco, Cincinnati and a 7-2 drubbing by Miami today, he has given up 14 earned runs in 17 innings. He walked pitcher Ricky Nolasco twice today, one of them setting up a two-run inning.
“You can’t walk the pitcher,” said Lyons.
But Lyons said that wasn’t the worst thing that happened.
“Giving up six runs was worse than that,” he said. “But walking Nolasco. .. . that’s definitely not something that’s going to help you be successful.”
Four of the six runs Lyons allowed today in 5 1/3 innings came with two outs.
He said the difference between when he was good and when he wasn’t, lay in “executing pitches, especially with runners on base.”
But the way Nolasco handled the Cardinals, Lyons would have had to pitch a premium game to win it.
Nolasco, with the help of right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who saved a double with a leaping catch, limited the Cardinals, who rested Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday, to one run and three hits over seven innings.
Both Cardinals stars pinch hit in the ninth when the Cardinals rallied for a run, with Holliday taking strike three from reliever Steve Cishek with the bases loaded, to end the game.
By winning two games in the three-game set, the Marlins, who have the majors’ worst record at 21-47, dealt the Cardinals their first series loss in their last 15 and their first road series loss in their last 12. The Cardinals boast the majors’ best road record at 25-13 but they had little oomph today as they finished a 10-day, nine-game trip at a modest 5-4.
POLANCO MAKES IT 6-1
MIAMI _ The Miami Marlins did more two-out damage to Cardinals lefthanded rookie Tyler Lyons today in the fifth inning. Placido Polanco’s two-run double with two out increased the Marlins’ lead to 6-1.
Lyons hasn’t been nearly as effective in his last three starts as he was in his first two, both one-run efforts for seven innings. In the fifth, he allowed a one-out bunt single by Justin Ruggiano and a two-out single to Adeiny Hechavarria before former Cardinal Polanco added the clincher.
In his last three starts, Lyons, who had seven days off before this one, has allowed 14 earned runs in 17 innings. He gave up six runs in 5 1/3 innings today before giving way to the bullpen.
Miami touched Seth Maness for a run in the seventh to run its edge to 7-1.
LYONS' WALK TO PITCHER COSTLY
MIAMI _ Cardinals starter Tyler Lyons lost his concentration _ and the strike zone _ with the bottom of the Miami order in the fourth inning today and it cost him two runs as the Cardinals fell in arrears, 4-1.
With two out and nobody on, Placido Polanco, the No. 7 hitter, singled and Lyons hit Jeff Mathis in the foot with a pitch. Pitcher Ricky Nolasco, a .125 batsman, walked on five pitches and then pesky Juan Pierre got his sixth hit of the series, a two-run single over the head of first baseman Matt Adams.
JAYS GETS CARDS ON BOARD
MIAMI _ Native son Jon Jay, who played his high school and college ball here, delivered a two-out, run-scoring single in the third inning off Miami ace Ricky Nolasco to cut the Marlins’ lead to 2-1 over the Cardinals today at covered Marlins Park.
Jay’s hit scored Daniel Descalso, who had singled for his fourth hit in the last two days. The run allowed by Nolasco was the first he had given the Cardinals in 21 1/3 innings since the 2011 season.
MARLINS JUMP LYONS
MIAMI _ Tyler Lyons, the Cardinals’ lefthanded rookie who had lost his last two starts after winning his first two, got off on the wrong foot today against the Miami Marlins.
As did his predecessors in this series, Lyons had trouble retiring Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, whose double off the fence in the first inning set up a two-run frame for the Marlins. Stanton was six for nine in the series with that hit, his fourth for extra bases.
Justin Ruggiano’s looping single to center scored both Stanton and Juan Pierre, who had extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a leadoff single.
HOLLIDAY, MOLINA, KOZMA SIT
MIAMI _ Matt Holliday is a .458 hitter against Miami’s Ricky Nolasco, but with the Cardinals in a run of playing 13 straight days, Holliday will be one of three regulars rested today for the series finale with the Marlins.
Catcher Yadier Molina, who had started behind the plate for all but five games, will yield to Tony Cruz, who will handle rookie Tyler Lyons. And shortstop Pete Kozma, who had started all but six games at his position, will be replaced by Daniel Descalso who had two doubles and a single on Saturday.
Holliday, who also had missed just six starts, will be replaced in left field by Allen Craig and Matt Adams will play first base.
Manager Mike Matheny said he had decided a couple of days ago that today would be an off day for Molina. Then, seeing Kozma’s frustration at bat on Saturday when he left several men in scoring position, he decided to keep Descalso’s hot bat in the lineup at a different position.
Holliday, he said, wanted to play _ and his numbers against Nolasco warranted it _ but Matheny made that call this morning after convincing Holliday.
“He’s got good numbers against just about everybody,” said Matheny. “But we were trying to look at how long it’s been (Holliday’s last missed start was June 1) and still keep Matt Adams involved."
The Cardinals return after the game to start a seven-game home stand with the Chicago Cubs and then the Texas Rangers, the last American League club to make their first regular-season visit to St. Louis. Texas, of course, did play four games there in the 2011 World Series, won by the Cardinals.