ST. LOUIS -- Lance Lynn admittedly did not have his best stuff on Wednesday night against San Diego. But that's OK, his teammates did.
After Lynn got knocked around for three runs in the first inning, the Cardinals answered right back in the bottom half with three runs of their own. That response by the offense set the tone in a 6-3 Cardinals' victory before 40,715 at Busch Stadium.
"They carried me, offensively, defensively and that's all," Lynn said. "I'm just trying to make pitches, and they carried me."
The win completed a sweep against the Padres, the Cardinals' first sweep and series victory since taking all three against Arizona May 7-9.
Lynn (7-1) had said on Tuesday that his biggest focus heading into Wednesday's start was to get ahead of hitters. The big right-hander did just that early on, but with little success. Lynn threw first-pitch strikes to five of the seven batters he faced in the first inning, but was touched up for three hits, including a leadoff homer by Will Venable.
While Lynn slowly walked off the field with eyes fixated on the grass after the top of the first, his teammates were gearing up to erase the Padres' lead.
"You could tell that we still had that competitiveness," said first baseman Matt Adams, who finished the game 2-for-4 with a double and his first career RBI. "We wanted to go out there and battle, get to [Jeff] Suppan. Everybody had good at-bats. Seeing the first three or four hitters go up there and have good ABs, it kind of sparked a light in the dugout for the rest of the guys."
The result of that energy was five hits in the bottom of the first off Suppan (2-3), and a tie game.
Despite dealing with a myriad of injuries, including Matt Carpenter's right oblique strain that sent him to the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, the Cardinals' lineup was hot from top to bottom.
Carlos Beltran broke open a 3-3 tie in the fifth with a two-run blast, his first since May 13. Third baseman David Freese, who spent two games out of the lineup trying to work out the kinks from a 3-for-34 slump that began on May 11, bounced back in a big way. Freese finished the night 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the first and a deep solo homer in the seventh.
"I slowed everything down mentally, physically," Freese said. "I tried to get back to the basics. I'm not going to overthink what happened tonight. I got a couple hits. We won the ballgame, which is obviously the most important thing. But just a refresher [for me], and it was a nice night."
Lynn, who shares a Major League-leading seven wins with Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, was harder on himself after the game then his numbers suggested he should have been. Lynn went six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. While Lynn said he was only happy with the way he threw his fastball, the 25-year old also mixed in a knee-buckling curveball to keep San Diego hitters off-balance.
"We knew that Lynn was comfortable throwing a lot of fastballs and we wanted to be aggressive. We wanted to attack," Venable said. "We were able to push some across early, but then he settled in, and we weren't able to do much after that."
After getting off to a hot start to the season, in which he won his first six starts, Lynn has cooled off. He's allowed at least eight hits in his last two starts.
Still, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was proud of the way his starter fought throughout the game, despite never really falling into a rhythm.
"Now he's working, and he's realizing it's tough to get those 'W's' in this league," Matheny said. "He's going to be making those adjustments. You know, he's got a makeup that you can't really teach. He's tough. When he gets knocked around a little bit, you can see him almost kick it up another notch. That's either a part of you or not, and he has that."
Lynn is not the only one who will have to continue to scratch and claw each inning. The Cardinals have seven players on the DL and will need to keep able bodies healthy to continue to produce.
However, getting a sweep after a 2-8 stretch heading into the homestand bodes well for the Cards.
"As a team, we have to fight with what we have and right now we're doing a pretty good job," Beltran said. "We feel confident with what we've got. It would have been great to have everybody healthy and everybody in the lineup, but at the end of the day, we have business to take care of."
Mike Still is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.