- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The timing was right for the St. Louis Cardinals to give both of their young star pitchers a break.

Tyler Lyons was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to start in place of Michael Wacha against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, a day after Marco Gonzalez got a spot start in place of Carlos Martinez.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals began the day with the best record by far in the majors.

“It comes down to trying to do the right things for these guys over the long haul,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Not that we’re looking for him to find another gear, we’re looking for him to continue to feel as good as he does right now.”

Matheny didn’t say when Wacha, who is 15-4 with a 2.69 ERA, would next pitch.

It’s long been a team priority to manage the workload for Wacha, 24, and Martinez, 23. The rotation switch wasn’t announced until Wednesday afternoon, but Wacha knew before leaving the ballpark the previous night he was getting a rest.

The Cardinals are also pushing back Lance Lynn, who sprained an ankle at the end of his last start. Martinez will start in Lynn’s spot on Friday against the Pirates followed by Jaime Garcia and John Lackey.

Matheny said Lynn could have pitched Friday but could benefit from the extra rest.

The moves were announced a day after the Cardinals beat the Nationals for the second straight day and went to 40 games above .500 for the first time this season.

“We take everything in,” Matheny said, adding the Cardinals might do a lot more of this the rest of the season. They led the Central by six games with 30 games to go.

Gonzales, who lasted 2 2-3 innings and gave up four runs, was optioned back to Triple-A Memphis.

Wacha and Martinez (13-6, 2.91) are both among the league leaders in wins. Neither has been babied, with Wacha logging 157 1-3 innings and Martinez 154 1-3.

St. Louis also recalled lefty Nick Greenwood and right-hander Miguel Socolovich from Memphis.

The 27-year-old Lyons will be making his seventh start for St. Louis this season in his fifth stint with the team. In his most recent recall, Lyons worked three scoreless relief appearances, including 5 1-3 innings Aug. 13 against Pittsburgh.

Socolovich was 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA with St. Louis earlier this season. Greenwood has made 21 starts at Memphis, going 12-6 with a 5.68 ERA, and is making his second appearance with the Cardinals this season.

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