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SF@STL: Lyons fans three over 6 1/3 innings of work

It may be a generation or more before Rangers fans recover from the heartache of the 2011 World Series, when Texas nearly won before the Cardinals stormed back to take Games 6 and 7.

Texas will have a chance to exorcise some of those demons this weekend, albeit on a smaller scale, as the club travels to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals for the first time since that October.

Derek Holland, who pitched exceptionally well in the World Series, is scheduled to start Friday.

"We've moved past that," Holland said. "They beat us and that's just the way it is. We can't sit and dwell on it. Our job is go out there and beat them and gain as much ground as we can on Oakland. We're not worried about what happened in the past. It's a new year."

In his past two outings, Holland is 0-2, having allowed eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. Still, Rangers manager Ron Washington said he's seen the 26-year-old lefty mature.

"He's done damage control," Washington said. "In the past, that's the one thing that got him. That's the one thing these young kids [in the rotation] are trying to figure out -- how to do damage control."

Holland will face a Cardinals lineup has scored more runs than any National League team. St. Louis also owns the highest batting average (.277) in the NL and leads the Majors by a wide margin in run differential (plus-111).

Yadier Molina is one of the driving forces. In June, the catcher is hitting .403 (27-for-67) with 12 extra-base hits entering Friday. Manager Mike Matheny said Molina deserves to be an MVP candidate.

"When you're leading the league in hitting, I think people are going to have to consider [Molina]," Matheny said. "You take what he's doing offensively, then you give due credit to what he brings out of any club -- let alone what he's doing for ours defensively. It's crazy not to have him as a candidate."

Rookie Tyler Lyons will start for the Cardinals. In five starts this season, the left-hander is 2-3 with a 4.65 ERA.

Lyons will try to snap a personal three-game losing streak, as he's taken the loss in all three of his June starts. He started the year strong, but after his last outing, in which he allowed six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, manager Mike Matheny said the 25-year-old is still adjusting to the Majors.

"A couple mistakes here and there, I think he's realizing, hurt you in this league more than they hurt in the Minor Leagues," Matheny said. "Guys don't miss many mistakes in the middle of the plate when you're in hitters' counts. He's got to control the count. He's got to be able to use his secondary pitches, which we saw stints of that in almost all of his starts. It's just the consistency of those innings."

Rangers: Berkman returns to St. Louis
• Lance Berkman will make his first trip to St. Louis as a member of the Rangers. Berkman played two seasons with the Cardinals before signing as a free agent with Texas this winter.

Playing time may be hard to come by for the 37-year old, as Mitch Moreland will be activated from the disabled list on Friday.

Playing in a NL park, Texas will lose the designated hitter, which further complicates the lineup for Washington.

"With Moreland's first time back, I may just take the time [for Berkman to pinch-hit], and it just might be a break for him," Washington said. "I don't think [Berkman] has any sentimental feelings about being back in St. Louis. If he does, he can come into my office, and I might think about it."

Moreland rejoined the team Thursday in Texas to work out after three rehab games with Double-A Frisco.

He's been out since June 5, after straining his right hamstring. Friday is the first day he's eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list.

In 58 games before the injury, Moreland hit .288/.338/.561 with 12 home runs.

Cardinals: Draftees putting pen to paper
• St. Louis officially signed its top Draft choice on Wednesday, reaching a deal with Marco Gonzales, selected No. 19 overall.

Gonzales threw a bullpen session at Busch Stadium with the big league rotation looking on.

"I was pretty starstruck," Gonzales said Wednesday. "Afterwards, they just gave a fist bump, handshake and just said 'good job' and 'good luck.' I'm just overjoyed to be here and couldn't think of a better organization to be in."

Gonzales was scheduled to leave Thursday for Jupiter, Fla., where he will play for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, joining fellow selections Rob Kaminsky (No. 28) and Oscar Mercado (No. 57).

Worth noting
• Rangers pitcher Joakim Soria, who had Tommy John surgery last April, began his injury rehab assignment Thursday with Double-A Frisco.

• Lyons, who was born in Lubbock, Texas, has never faced the Rangers.

• This series is the first time the Cardinals will host the Rangers in the regular season at Busch Stadium. St. Louis leads the all-time regular-season series 2-1, after winning a 2004 series in Arlington.

• Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin extended his hitting streak to six games with a seventh-inning single on Thursday. Comments