The Phillies' lineup has gotten the message.
Heading into Friday night's game, the Phillies heard the criticism about their lineup's slow production as they entered the night averaging 3.44 runs per game (26th in baseball). Philadelphia answered with a five-run outburst to start the first, before topping St. Louis, 8-2,in seven innings in Friday's rain-shortened game.
The Phillies posted their most runs since April 10, and if they can repeat that sort of production Saturday, starter Cliff Lee won't need to be the cure-all that he has been for them all season.
In Lee's first two starts, he backed up the Phillies' subpar offense in a 2-0 win against the Braves, and then in an 8-3 victory outings, while the Phillies' lineup combined for a .279 batting average.
St. Louis counters with Lance Lynn, who earned a no-decision in his only career matchup with the Phillies last year. Lynn gave up four earned runs on four hits through five innings in that game, and he's struggled in two of his first three starts this season. The right-hander has pitched six innings only once, while posting the worst ERA among Cards starters at 5.40.
Lynn labored his last time out, relying heavily on his fastball to allow four earned runs over five innings against the Reds.
Phillies: Howard sits
• It's no secret that Ryan Howard has struggled against left-handers this season, and opposing managers have taken advantage. Howard has a .604 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against left-handers from 2011-13, but Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said that wasn't the reason he sat out Friday night. Howard did not play because he has tightness in his right groin, but Manuel said it came at a convenient time. "This is a good time, gives me a chance to sit him down," Manuel said.
• After becoming just the fourth NL team since 1935 to play four consecutive games without a walk, the Phillies snapped their streak Friday with two walks off the Cards' Jaime Garcia.
• The Phillies enter Saturday's game with the second-worst walk total (36); only the Cubs have fewer (32).
Cardinals: No bullpen changes announced
• Cards manager Mike Matheny is playing it by ear with regard to his struggling bullpen. St. Louis' relievers have the highest opposition batting average in the National League.
"We're not making any statements one way or another as to who we use where," said Matheny earlier this week. "We'll stay consistent with it. We're just going to have to see every night; that's just how it is going to be for a while."
• Before the Cards' opener with the Phillies, Matheny was confident in Matt Carpenter's ability from the plate.
"He has really shown an ability to have tough at-bats, especially when you are going up against a tough left-hander like a [Cole] Hamels," Matheny said.
Carpenter hasn't been able to translate that ability in the leadoff spot so far against Philadelphia. The left-hander has gone 0-for-6 against the Phillies this season.
• Even though Yadier Molina went 3-for-4 Thursday, Matheny decided to rest his Gold Glove catcher and start Tony Cruz. Matheny noted before the game that knowing when to rest his top catcher is always a challenge.
"There never is a good day to get [Molina] a rest even though we have a lot of confidence in Tony," Matheny said. "We do need to get him in there."
Cruz was 0-for-3 on the night with one strikeout in the Cards' loss.
• Friday's win marked the first time the Phillies have scored a run before the sixth inning since April 10.
• Lee is due for another strong outing for the Phillies Saturday, as he's performed well against the Cardinals over his 12-year career. Lee is 3-2 against the Cards, earning a 2.44 ERA in 44 1/3 innings.
Gary Cotton is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.