PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates couldn't have asked for a better start to Friday night's game.
Alex Presley led off the bottom of the first inning with an inside-the-park home run, a drive off the top of the center-field fence that just eluded a leaping Skip Schumaker. It was the Pirates' second inside-the-park homer at PNC Park since it opened in 2001.
That was as good as it got for Pittsburgh. Lance Lynn allowed one run in seven innings, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-1 victory.
Filling in nicely for injured ace Chris Carpenter, Lynn (3-0) gave up four hits. He walked one and struck out four. He has won each of his starts and compiled a 1.42 ERA while Carpenter has been on the disabled list with a nerve problem in his pitching shoulder.
Lynn pitched primarily in relief last season as a rookie when St. Louis won the World Series.
Jose Tabata followed Presley's homer with a single, but Pittsburgh never put a runner in scoring position.
"You get an inside-the- park homer and drop a single to the next guy and we ended up with two more (hits) the rest of the night," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was another strong outing for (Lynn). You have to take the barrel to him. He doesn't seem like he's going to hurt himself."
Jack Wilson hit the Pirates' only other inside-the-park home run at PNC Park on July 2, 2004, and the last Pittsburgh player to hit one was Freddy Sanchez at Houston on July 21, 2008.
"I wasn't expecting it," Presley said. "I thought I had a triple for sure, and when I saw him miss it, I think he got hurt out there and couldn't get up, that helped my chances a bunch. It was one of those things."
Schumaker, who said he thought he would be able to play Saturday, was shaken up on the play and left the game. He had been activated from the disabled list prior to the game after missing the first 13 games because of a strained right oblique.
Lynn needed just 88 pitches to get through seven innings.
"What I did when they moved me to the bullpen last year was challenge hitters, get ahead in the count and make them hit my pitch," Lynn said. "When I was starting, I tried to nitpick. I'd get behind in the count and have to give the hitters good pitches to hit. I learned a lot from pitching out of the bullpen. I'm more aggressive and more confident now as a starter."
Lynn also scored the go-ahead run on Carlos Beltran's two-out single in the fifth inning off Charlie Morton (0-1).
Daniel Descalso homered for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, who won for the fifth time in six games.
Morton allowed two runs — one earned — and four hits in five innings with three walks and six strikeouts.
"I'm fine with the hits I gave up because a lot of them weren't hit too hard,' Morton said. "With the walks, I think I could have done a lot better job at being aggressive."
Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte, who notched his third save in three tries, each pitched a hitless inning to complete the four-hitter for St. Louis.
St. Louis tied it in the second inning on Yadier Molina's RBI double.
Descalso homered — a liner into the right-field stands — in the eighth off Jared Hughes to start a two-run inning. Furcal added a run-scoring double.