ST. LOUIS -- Heading into Thursday night's start, Lance Lynn had not been pitching at the high level that led him to his first All-Star Game invite in his first year in the rotation.
He'd lost two out of his last three outings, posted an ERA just shy of 10.00 and allowed opponents to hit .368 off him over that span.
But he put those ugly starts behind him on Thursday, getting back on the right track while leading the Cardinals to a 6-2 win over Colorado on a muggy night at Busch Stadium.
"You take something out of every game, and I think he started off so strong that he knew there were going to be some trials," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's answered them well, and came back today. I thought the ball was jumping out his hand well. I thought he looked like his stuff was as good as any day this season."
Lynn shut out the Rockies over six innings, allowing four hits while striking out seven. However, from the get-go it appeared as though his struggles might continue.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander started out shaky, walking two of the first three batters he faced.
Lynn also worked his way out of a jam in the second, after allowing a one-out single and double. He struck out Colorado starter Christian Friedrich and snagged a hard-hit grounder back up the middle by Dexter Fowler to strand runners at second and third.
From there he locked into a zone and didn't allow another hit until Fowler's two-out single in the fifth.
From the dugout, Matheny and his coaching staff picked up on what had caused Lynn trouble in the first two frames. He simply needed to get on top of the ball.
"He was challenging them before, but when a guy with a heavy sink starts to get on the side of the ball, sometimes your slot changes without you really knowing it," Matheny said. "He did a nice job of making that in-game adjustment. Not many guys can do that."
"I think that last hitter of the second inning, I just did it," Lynn said. "When I came in, they told me, 'That's how you go, get that feeling back and roll with it the rest of the game.' And I was able to do that."
The Cardinals gave Lynn a one-run cushion in the first inning by playing small ball. Rafael Furcal singled, moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Jon Jay, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Matt Holliday.
"We've talked about it. When we get that early jump, we're a tough team to catch," Matheny said.
But it wasn't until the fifth inning that the Cards broke open the game, collecting three hits and three walks while cashing in on a few Rockies' mistakes to put a five-spot on the board.
St. Louis loaded the bases without any outs, starting with a David Freese single and a Matt Carpenter walk. Lynn came to the plate attempting a sacrifice bunt, but Friedrich walked him on four pitches.
It was then that things began to unravel for Friedrich.
"I made it too big of an out," Friedrich said. "I thought about how to turn the double play and getting off the mound instead of focusing on throwing the fastball right down the middle and executing it."
Friedrich walked Jay a batter later to send home a run, and Holliday singled on a two-strike slider to put St. Louis ahead, 3-0.
Carlos Beltran doubled off the center-field wall to score two more, increasing his National League-leading RBI total to 65.
"When I have guys in scoring position, I try to concentrate a little bit more and try to hit the ball hard," Beltran said. "I got a pitch that I was able to drive."
Allen Craig then hit a high chopper to shortstop Jonathan Herrera, who threw ahead of Holliday heading for home. Catcher Wilin Rosario missed the tag at the plate, and the Cardinals increased their lead to six.
The Cardinals have now won seven of their last 10 games, and are five games above .500 for the first time since June 26 with one more three-game series, against Miami, remaining before the All-Star break.
But Lynn's first-half duties are done, as he will rest until heading to Kansas City on July 10. Despite enduring the three difficult outings prior to picking up his 11th win, he said that his confidence would have been high regardless.
"I felt like I had thrown the ball just fine, and it was one of those things where bad luck happens," Lynn said. "Tonight was a good feeling going into the break, of course. We're still working, and it's going to be a process throughout the rest of the year."
Mike Still is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.