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ATL@STL: Lynn pitches six strong frames vs. Braves

At first glance, the Cardinals visiting the Dodgers on Friday for the weekend's only non-Interleague series stacks up as an offensive showdown.

But with key players in both dugouts out with injuries, the matchup between division leaders will shift its focus to the mound.

The first game features two of the top seven ERA pitchers in the National League with Ted Lilly (2.11) and Lance Lynn (1.81) squaring off against each other.

Lynn is coming off his worst outing of the year when he gave up three earned runs over six innings against the Braves on Sunday. He took his first loss of the season but he still leads the Majors with six wins.

"I was missing a lot of spots and they were making me fight for every out I got," Lynn said afterward. "That lineup will do that to you. I'm not worried about how I started. I'm worried about what I have next."

Lilly, on the other hand, pitched a statistically worse game in his last start than Lynn, but earned a win anyway. He surrendered five runs, four earned, over 6 1/3 innings against the Rockies, but the Dodgers' offense carried him to an 11-5 victory.

"I'm pretty darn confident that we're going to come back and score some runs," Lilly said after the game. "So you figure every run you save counts."

For the Dodgers, important pieces like Matt Kemp and Juan Uribe, among others, will miss the series while on the disabled list. The Cardinals' injury problems aren't as severe, but they could be with Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran, who are both listed as day to day.

The Cardinals won three of four in Los Angeles last year and have a 13-9 mark there since 2005.

"I look forward to it a little bit," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "They're the world champions and it will be nice to play against them. You know they've got a good club, they score runs and they pitch. I look forward to it."

Cardinals: Craig sits
Craig did not play Thursday against the Giants because of a sore hamstring sustained during Wednesday night's victory.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Craig remains a "day-to-day" situation.

Craig underwent surgery last June to repair a fractured kneecap. He missed two months last season and then missed the first 22 games this year with a right knee injury resulting from that surgery.

He made the most of his time in the lineup thus far, driving in 19 runs in his 13 games. He hit safely in 10 of those games and is hitting .379 on the year.

"I tell myself that I need to play well," Craig said. "No one cares if I have been on the disabled list. I'm always trying to get better."

Dodgers: Howell back in bullpen
• Ken Howell officially returned to his role as Dodgers bullpen coach after five weeks away from the team with a diabetes-related condition.

Howell developed a blister on his foot that required aggressive treatment to prevent infection and possible amputation.

"Because of bad circulation, something like that can be a real problem for me," Howell said on Thursday. "But everything's back to normal."

• Kemp, who is still dealing with a left hamstring strain, resumed throwing on Thursday and plans to hit off of a tee on Friday.

Worth noting

 • Beltran's sore right knee did not respond to treatment as expected, and he was not in the starting lineup Thursday.

"When he came in, he was not where he thought he would be," Matheny said before the game. "Check back tomorrow."

Beltran, who popped out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning Thursday, is hitting .293 with 13 home runs and 32 runs driven in.

• Lilly has an eight-game winning streak going back to last year and is 7-3 with 2.85 ERA in 14 starts career starts against the Cardinals.

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