Lynn struggles as Cardinals lose to Twins

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Lance Lynn allowed four hits in a three-run first inning Monday and Jason Motte gave up a two-run homer in his second straight outing as the St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Minnesota Twins 7-0.

Working on his slider instead of throwing fastballs and trying to induce fly balls into the wind, Lynn gave up three runs — two earned — and five hits in 21⁄3 innings.

Aaron Hicks and Brian Dozier started with singles, and Trevor Plouffe hit a sacrifice fly. Singles by Chris Parmalee and Joe Benson brought in another run, and Lynn threw wildly on Wilkin Ramirez’s grounder for an error that allowed the third run in.

“We’re trying to do things to have quicker, easier innings, and the sinker is the way to go,” Lynn said. “I was getting the ground balls I wanted. I just couldn’t get them to hit it at anybody when I needed to.”

All five hits off Lynn were singles. He has given up four earned runs and nine hits in two starts.

“I think he’s right on pace and where he should be,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s just getting built up. When guys go in with a plan, they need to stick with their plan through spring training. The foolish thing to do is back off when you’re not getting the exact results you want.”

Hicks hit a two-run homer in the seventh off Motte.

Twins starter Cole De Vries, trying to earn a spot in the rotation, pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts. He has allowed one runner in three outings.

“I know it’s an open position, and I’m looking at it as it’s mine to lose,” De Vries said. “I’m going out there and trying to prove every day that I want it, and I’m the guy to take that last spot.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire said the 28-year-old right-hander is gaining confidence.

“He makes it look easy,” Gardenhire said. “Two quick innings. Really not much trouble. He’s using all of his pitches. You saw a nice breaking ball, nice slow curveball. That’s kind of what we saw during the season last year.”

Four relievers followed, completing a two-hitter. The Twins turned five double plays.

Cardinals third baseman David Freese fell into the stands while attempting to catch a foul ball. Freese landed on his tailbone and was removed from the game as a precautionary measure.

“He was pretty much done for the day,” Matheny said. “When you hit like that on your back it’s best to shut it down.”

Notes: Matheny arrived at the stadium a few hours late after having an epidural injection in the morning. Matheny has a ruptured disk. ... Matheny on SS Rafael Furcal, who has stopped throwing because of an injured elbow: “We hurt for him because we know he’s been working hard to make it happen,” Matheny said. “It’s a setback.” ... Pete Kozma, who will share shortstop duties with Ronny Cedeno, started Monday and was hitless in two at-bats. ... The Cardinals have their first open date today, and Matheny told players to stay away from the complex. “They need to back off and spend time with their families,” he said.

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