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Lyons re-enters rotation in thick of division race

Lyons re-enters rotation in thick of division race

ST. LOUIS -- Told Friday that he would slide from the bullpen to the rotation, lefty Tyler Lyons now steps into the thick of the Cardinals' pursuit for their first division title since 2009.

Lyons is slated to start against the Reds on Monday, kicking off a string of 13 consecutive games the Cardinals have against the National League Central's other two contending teams. Having not pitched since Tuesday, Lyons was able to throw a bullpen session Friday to get back on the starting routine.

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"[I'm] just keeping everything the same, not making too much of it," Lyons said. "[I'm] just sticking with what I was doing down [in the Minors] and trying to use that here."

Lyons has the opportunity to learn from past mistakes, too. His start in Cincinnati on June 8 lasted 5 1/3 innings, and Lyons gave up four earned runs on six hits and a walk in the loss. Four of those hits were by left-handed hitters. Jay Bruce tagged Lyons for a home run, Joey Votto tallied two doubles and Shin-Soo Choo led off the first with a single.

It is the Cardinals' hope that this time around Lyons can have improved success specifically against those lefties. That was one of the reasons why the club tabbed him -- not Michael Wacha or Carlos Martinez as the fill-in starter. The Reds are 22-21 in games started by left-handers this season.

"Maybe left-on-left is a little bit of an advantage, but you still have to make pitches obviously," Lyons said. "If you make s a mistake, they can still hit it. Hopefully, I can use that to my advantage."

In a stat that Lyons found surprising, lefties are actually hitting him at a better clip (.289) than right-handers (.242) this year.

If Lyons performs well Monday, he has the opportunity to remain in the rotation for at least a few more turns. That would put him in line to face the Pirates in two consecutive starts.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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