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CHC@STL: Lynn fans five over 5 1/3 strong innings

Lance Lynn, meet the league's least imposing lineup.

The Cardinals' young starter will try to continue his success in Friday's series opener against the Pirates, and he'll hope to tame an offense that ranks last in the league in batting average (.205) and runs per game (2.17). Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle knows that his offense is better than it has shown, but he also knows that the first impressions haven't been good.

"Impressed is not a word I'm ready to go to with any of our guys," said Hurdle. "Consistency over time is what impresses people at this level. Encouraged? Optimistic? Absolutely. Pleased? Absolutely. Satisfied? No, nowhere close."

Lynn, meanwhile, can claim all of those positive emotions for his own. After making all but two of his 18 appearances out of the bullpen last year, the right-hander has excelled thus far in his brief run as a member of the rotation.

Lynn has won both of his starts, holding the Brewers to one run in 6 2/3 innings in a 9-3 victory and limiting the Cubs to one run in 5 1/3 frames of a 5-1 triumph. His 13:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 0.75 WHIP have left opposing hitters helpless.

"Most people haven't heard that much about him," said manager Mike Matheny said. "I think that's going to change."

Matheny called on Lynn to replace the veteran Chris Carpenter -- out indefinitely with nerve inflammation -- in the rotation. Carpenter is working through shoulder strengthening exercises and has not yet progressed on to the throwing portion of his program, which means that Lynn might be in the rotation as long as his success can keep him there.

"Hopefully, it gives us confidence that, with Carp out, we can still win ballgames," said Lynn. "I see this as a new challenge."

The Pirates will go to Charlie Morton in Friday's opener, and he'll be hoping to improve on his season debut. The right-hander went five innings and allowed three earned runs, taking a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to San Francisco. Morton has to hope the past isn't prologue, as he's gone 2-6 with a 6.25 ERA in nine career starts against the Cardinals.

Cardinals: Forced to proceed without Berkman
The Cardinals lost one big piece of their offense when Albert Pujols signed with the Angels during the offseason, and now they'll have to make do without Lance Berkman. Berkman aggravated a left calf injury in Wednesday's game, and the Cardinals expect to put him on the disabled list and reinstate Skip Schumaker on Friday.

Berkman missed three weeks with a similar injury in 2009, and he reported to work feeling "still pretty sore" on Thursday morning. Schumaker, meanwhile, had been sidelined since March with a right oblique injury, and he'll be activated from a Minor League rehab stint at Triple-A Memphis. Schumaker is expected to join the club on Friday in Pittsburgh.

Pirates: Karstens lands on disabled list
Pittsburgh placed right-hander Jeff Karstens on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, one day after he left a start after one inning because of inflammation in his pitching shoulder. Karstens had posted a 3.27 ERA in three starts this season, and the club recalled Brad Lincoln from Triple-A Indianapolis to take his place in the rotation.

"Looking at the best move for us, we saw no need to milk it through, to have him skip one start then reassess," Hurdle said of evaluating Karstens on a start-by-start basis. "Just shut it down. He'll be thoroughly evaluated by our team doctors when we get back, but this removes any urgency and provides some clarity on how we move forward."

Worth noting
• The Pirates have neither scored nor allowed more than five runs in a game this season. The National League record to begin a season in this fashion is 16 games, set by the 1965 Pirates.

• Lincoln had a 2.25 ERA with nine strikeouts through two starts for Indianapolis. He pitched three scoreless innings of relief in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Arizona.

• The Cardinals have beaten Pittsburgh in the season series in three straight years. The Pirates last bested St. Louis in the 2008 campaign. Comments