ST LOUIS -- Five days removed from a start Lance Lynn called one to remember came one he'll quickly try to forget.
Hard-hit grounders and an error unraveled Lynn's start in the first inning Sunday, and a lack of command did him in not long after as he followed up his first career shutout with his shortest start since 2012.
Lynn struggled through a 21-minute, 35-pitch first inning in which the Giants scored four runs. That was plenty, as San Francisco starter Tim Hudson shut down the Cardinals' offense to give the Giants an 8-0 win and three of four games at Busch Stadium in front of 42,734.
"Just didn't have it," manager Mike Matheny said. "You hate to have a couple of those happen in the same series, but that's exactly what happened. There's no way to explain it."
Lynn surrendered three straight singles to begin the game -- two on grounders and another on a broken bat soft line drive to right -- to give the Giants their first run.
With one out, second baseman Kolten Wong fielded a sharply-hit grounder to his left and turned toward second looking for a double play. Instead, Wong bobbled the ball and eventually had no play, putting runners on second and third with the error.
"If an out's made there," Lynn said, "we're out of the inning with one run."
"We got a little lucky," Hudson added. "They helped us out defensively. We probably should have only gotten about one run. It's nice to take advantage of a miscue."
Lynn would have two more outs to get with two in scoring position. He retired the next hitter with a force out at second as another run crossed the plate, putting runners on the corners. He paid the price for the out, hyper-extending his right knee while covering first.
After being checked on, Lynn remained in the game. It would be another hard-hit grounder back through the middle that would score two more before Lynn finally worked out of the inning.
"I just couldn't get a ground ball to go to somebody," Lynn said. "It's one of those days where that will happen."
The first-inning run support was plenty for Hudson, who entered the game as one of baseball's top pitchers this season with a 1.92 ERA. It would only fall from there.
The Cardinals' offense could muster only three hits and one true threat against Hudson during his seven scoreless frames.
Matt Carpenter, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the first, hit a one-out double in the third. Matt Holliday was walked with two outs to bring up Allen Craig.
A scary moment ensued at Busch Stadium when Craig took a third-pitch 89 mph sinker off his helmet. After being looked at by a trainer and showing no negative symptoms, Craig headed to first to load the bases.
"It scared the crap out of me," Hudson said. "I was just trying to throw a fastball inside; I hadn't thrown a fastball in on him the whole day. I'm truly glad he's all right."
Craig exited the game in the seventh, but according to Matheny, that was due to the large deficit, not the hit by pitch.
"He said he felt fine, didn't have any symptoms of anything," Matheny said. "Just kind of got him out of there when it got to the point it was [out of reach]."
Rookie Oscar Taveras, who finished 1-for-4 in his second Major League start, hit the first pitch he saw on the ground to second to end the threat.
That threat came after Lynn had run into more trouble in the top half of the inning when two leadoff walks came around to score. A leadoff single the next inning, followed by a one-out walk, ended his day. One more run credited to Lynn came across after his exit.
The right-hander, who scattered five hits in nine scoreless innings five days prior against the Yankees for his first career complete game, tossed only 3 1/3 innings Sunday allowing seven runs (four earned) on eight hits and a season-high four walks.
It was his shortest start since going two innings on Aug. 24, 2012.
"You look at one of Lance's best games we've ever seen from him [last time], and then this happens," Matheny said. "You're just going to have those days, but they're tough on the offense to keep trying to fight and get back into it."
Lynn's shutout came on 126 pitches, but the right-hander wasn't blaming the long outing for what happened Sunday.
"I would say it had more to do with the extra-long first inning," Lynn said. "It's hard to pitch with one leg."
That leg, Lynn said, is fine.
"The only way I'm going to tell someone I'm coming out of the game is if I can't get the ball to home plate," Lynn said."I got the ball to home plate, didn't I? I'm fine."
In relief of Lynn, the Cardinals' bullpen allowed one run over the final 5 2/3 innings.
The offense for the Cardinals never came. After loading the bases in the third, St. Louis put only two runners on base and collected one other hit, a single in the eighth, after Hudson's exit.
"We would have liked for it to have gone better today," said Carpenter, who collected half of the Cardinals' hits. "Getting down early kind of makes it tough, but that's the way the game goes sometimes. You've just got to find a way to change it."
The Cardinals' offense has collected only 13 combined hits in the last three games. With the exception of a four-run eighth Friday in a 9-4 loss, the offense has produced two runs in those games.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals have lost five of seven games on the homestand and dropped back-to-back series for the first time since April turned to May when they lost consecutive series to Milwaukee and Chicago.
"Losing is frustrating," Carpenter said. "Anytime you lose a series to a team, whether they're playing well or not, is tough to swallow, especially at home.
"It happened, and now we've got to find a way to get better."
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.