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Cardinals-Marlins Preview

Lance Lynn has been itching to get back on the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The right-hander gets his chance Thursday when he comes off the disabled list looking to help the visiting Cardinals sweep the Miami Marlins.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and the front office never seemed too concerned when Lynn (4-4, 3.07 ERA) landed on the DL on June 12 with a forearm strain that's plagued him since his second start. He declared himself fit to return after a successful bullpen session last weekend.

"I'm just looking forward to competing again," Lynn, who last pitched June 7 at Dodger Stadium, told MLB's official website. "I've been out for two weeks and you never want to not be able to compete. So I'm just looking forward to getting back out there."

Lynn, who's had at least 15 wins in three straight seasons and logged 200-plus innings in each of the last two, went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in the three starts before the injury.

"He's one of our new leaders - a guy that's taken that next step in his career," Matheny said. "He wants to be one of the horses - a guy that goes out there and soaks up innings and a guy that can come in and stop a bad streak. He has the ability to do that.

"So we're excited to have him back and excited to have him feeling better."

Despite a 4.34 ERA, Lynn is 3-0 as a starter versus Miami (30-43), which has been outscored 31-16 while losing six of seven. Jaime Garcia tossed seven solid innings before leaving with a cramp and Jason Heyward homered for a third straight game Wednesday to help the Cardinals (47-24) win 6-1 - their 20th victory in 28 games.

Heyward, who has never homered in four consecutive contests, is batting .464 with four of his nine home runs and nine RBIs in the last seven.

He's 1 for 8 versus Dan Haren (6-4, 3.19), who went 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA in his first five home starts but has a 4.63 ERA while splitting the last two. The right-hander returns home after a 5-0 loss at Cincinnati on Friday in which he gave up two runs in 6 1-3 innings but didn't get a run of support for the second consecutive outing.

Haren, who began his career with the Cardinals in 2003, has a 5.59 ERA while losing both starts over the past two seasons against them.

Teammate Giancarlo Stanton clubbed his major league-leading 27th homer for one of his three hits Wednesday.

"At the end of the day, we're still getting seven to 10 hits," Stanton said. "It's a matter of how important they are."

Stanton has homered in both games of the series but is 1 for 10 with a home run and six strikeouts versus Lynn.

The Marlins will activate Jarred Cosart from the DL on Thursday and send him to the bullpen. Cosart, 1-3 with a 4.08 ERA in seven starts, hasn't been on a major league mound since May 13 because of vertigo. All of his 47 appearances have come as a starter.

"Right now, it looks like he will start out in the bullpen and ease back into it," manager Dan Jennings said.

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