ST. LOUIS | Starlin Castro made the NL All-Star team his first two full seasons. The odds are not good on making it three in a row for a player who lately cannot buy a hit.
"I'm working hard every day, I know I can get out of this," Castro said after failing to get the ball out of the infield in four at-bats in the Cubs' 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night. "When I get out of this, I'll be good for the rest of the season."
Lance Lynn earned his 10th victory to tie for the NL lead, with the biggest out at the expense of Castro, and Matt Holliday homered and drove in two runs for St. Louis.
Castro, who is in an 11-for-85 slump that has dropped his average to .232, is trying to stay upbeat. He said manager Dale Sveum hasn't talked to him about taking a day off.
"He talks to me about hitting," he said.
Yadier Molina batted cleanup for the first time this season and walked twice with a double, raising his NL-leading average to .366. Allen Craig, the regular cleanup man, made his first pinch-hit appearance of the season and had a two-run single off Hector Rondon during a four-run sixth.
The Cardinals took three of four from the Cubs and lead the majors with a 47-26 record heading into a weekend interleague series against the Texas Rangers, the team they beat in the 2011 World Series.
Wellington Castillo homered leading off the third for the Cubs, who left the bases loaded in the fifth when Castro fouled out. They're 20-18 against NL teams outside their division, but just 9-24 against the Central, and totaled two runs the last two games.
"We knew coming in here it would be tough to score runs," manager Dale Sveum said. "It was, too. We didn't swing the bats at all. Our starting pitching was pretty good here in all four games against the best offense in baseball, but we never put any threats together."
Lynn (10-1) allowed a run on three hits in six innings with six strikeouts and has reached double digits in wins before the All-Star break both of his years in the rotation, going 11-4 last year and making the All-Star team. He joined teammate Adam Wainwright and Washington's Jordan Zimmermann for the league lead.
Lynn retired the side in order four times and is 5-1 against the Cubs, the lone loss coming last month at Wrigley Field. He's won nine in a row at Busch Stadium.
Molina was 8 for 13 in the series with a homer and is 11 for 21 overall this season against Chicago with a homer and five RBIs.
Castillo's second homer of the season and first since April 8 briefly tied it at 1 after David Freese's run-scoring groundout off Scott Feldman (6-6) had given the Cardinals the lead. Matt Carpenter scored from second on Holliday's infield hit, a bouncer between third and short that Castro got his glove on but could not contain.
"The ball hit something in the dirt," Castro said. "That's why I didn't get it."
Feldman retired one of the four hitters he faced in the sixth, the lone out coming on center fielder Ryan Sweeney's leaping catch at the wall to rob Matt Adams of a homer two at-bats after Holliday hit his 11th, also to straightaway center.
"I knew going in they had a good lineup," Feldman said. "You've got to make your pitches but at the same time, you have to be aggressive.
"The bottom line is you have to tip your cap to them."
The Cardinals won consecutive games for the first time since June 6-7 after alternating wins and losses for nine games.
Notes: Rookie Tyler Lyons (2-3, 4.65) opposes the Rangers' Derek Holland (5-4, 3.30) tonight. ... The Cubs' three-game series against the Astros is their lone home action in a stretch of 19 games with Matt Garza (1-1, 4.98) opposing Dallas Keuchel (4-3, 4.23). ... Cardinals starters lead the majors with 41 victories.