Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/15/12

After manager Mike Matheny challenged his team to play with the urgency that "the sky is falling," the St. Louis Cardinals put together a modest two-game winning streak.

Their 1-0 and 5-3 victories over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, had a lot to do with starting pitching.

Right-hander Lance Lynn worked 7 1/3 innings, fanning 12 on Wednesday, and then right-hander Jake Westbrook worked five scoreless innings before giving up a three-run homer to Chicago left fielder Adam Dunn in the sixth inning on Thursday.

Nonetheless, Westbrook gained his first win in his last seven starts. In his previous six, he had allowed 59 baserunners -- 47 hits and 12 walks -- in 31 innings. He was perfect through four innings Thursday, and he didn't walk a batter in his six-inning outing.

Twelve of Westbrook's 18 outs (eight in the first three innings) came on grounders.

Matheny said, "In the first inning, he tried to find what the umpire's lowest zone was going to be."

Westbrook was yanked after just 67 pitches, but Matheny admitted he was concerned by what he saw in the sixth.

"The balls were getting hit pretty hard that last inning," the manager said, "and we had a fresh bullpen."

The previously rocky bullpen has been spotless the last two nights, with right-hander Jason Motte gaining his 12th and 13th saves. Over 4 2/3 innings in the two games, the Cardinals, employing six relievers, didn't give up a run.

The offense lately had consisted of right fielder Carlos Beltran, who had had all three of the Cardinals' homers on the current homestand and was 12-for-26 (.462) in a seven-game hitting streak. However, Beltran was bothered by a stomach virus and didn't play Thursday.

Third baseman David Freese stepped in to hit a two-run homer and drove in another run with a double. Freese homered to right-center, doubled to right-center and lined to right.

"That's where he needs to be," said Matheny, knowing full well that Freese's best power is to the opposite field.

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