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NL-leading Cardinals go for another win over Dodgers

(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Cardinals weren't going to let some bumps and bruises prevent them from improving their NL-leading record.

The Cards look to secure their fifth victory in six games on Saturday night when they resume a three-game series versus the Los Angeles Dodgers, occupiers of last place in the NL West.

St. Louis moved to 31-16 on the season with Friday's 7-0 victory. Lance Lynn battled through lower back and hamstring pain to hurl six scoreless frames, while David Freese smacked a two-run homer and drove in three runs in his return to the lineup. Freese had missed three straight after receiving stitches to close a cut on his right hand earlier in the week.

Allen Craig also homered and finished with three RBI, giving Lynn plenty of support as he won his seventh game of the season. Lynn gave up just two hits and struck out nine.

"Lance had a good fastball, and that set the tone. He was sharp tonight, he had good movement and good location. He kept them off balance," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

The Cardinals have won eight of their last 11 and lead the NL Central by 1 1/2 games over the Cincinnati Reds.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, sit last in the NL West with a 19-27 mark, 1 1/2 games behind fourth-place San Diego and seven games out of first. They have lost five of their last seven overall.

Chris Capuano was tagged for six runs -- five earned -- on six hits over five- plus innings to absorb the loss.

"Craig and Freese hurt us. It was a tough matchup for Capuano. Lance had good stuff, we just didn't do anything tonight. We didn't have good chances, and they piled it on," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

While the Cardinals turn to rookie John Gast as he continues to fill in as an injury replacement, veteran Ted Lilly returns to the Dodgers' rotation for just his third start of the campaign.

Lilly went 5-1 with a 3.14 earned run average in eight starts last year before missing the rest of the season and the start of this campaign due to a left shoulder injury. He made two starts and allowed five earned runs over eight innings before landing back on the disabled list on April 30 because of a ribcage issue.

The 37-year-old lefty is 7-3 lifetime versus the Cardinals with a 2.66 ERA in 15 meetings.

Gast, meanwhile, has won each of his first two major league starts after he joined the rotation in place of Jake Westbrook (right elbow inflammation).

The 24-year-old won his MLB debut on May 14 versus the New York Mets despite allowing four runs over six innings of a 10-4 decision. Gast returned to the bump on Sunday to beat the Brewers, scattering two runs, four hits and a pair of walks over 5 1/3 frames. Both of the runs he allowed came in the sixth.

"I made a few mistakes there in the sixth," Gast said on St. Louis' website. "Maybe a little bit of fatigue today because it was so hot. It's something to keep an eye on, but I don't think two starts is a big enough sample size to make any conclusions on that."

The left-hander has a 4.76 ERA through his two outings.

The Cardinals have won six of their past eight versus the Dodgers.

05/25 10:16:20 ET