By Joe Strauss
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, May. 25 2008
LOS ANGELES — As he headed to the Petco Park bullpen Wednesday afternoon in San
Diego for his between-starts throw, Kyle Lohse glanced over his shoulder with a
semi-sarcastic reminder: "I feel fine. Everything's good. I'm going to throw my
'pen. Make sure everybody knows that, will ya?"
Lohse let everyone including the befuddled Los Angeles Dodgers know Saturday
night, when he became the latest Cardinals pitcher to offer evidence that this
staff is more a force than a mere early-season curiosity.
Lohse provided the Cardinals six shutout innings in a 4-0 win. In return, Lohse
got four two-out runs in the third inning from an offense otherwise stymied by
Dodgers starter Brad Penny.
Penny faced the minimum number of Cardinals hitters except for an abrupt string
of five consecutive batters who reached base against him in the third.
Immediately after bouncing a pitch off plate umpire Jerry Layne's right hand,
Penny walked back-to-back batters before left fielder Chris Duncan broke a
scoreless game with an opposite-field single.
First baseman Albert Pujols made the lead 2-0 when he drove his first hit, a
double, since lining a ball off San Diego Padres righthander Chris Young's face
Drilled by a Penny fastball in the second inning, center fielder Rick Ankiel
returned in the third to line a two-run double past third base for a 4-0 edge.
Second baseman Adam Kennedy's fifth-inning single stood as the only other
damage within a four-hit win.
Treated gingerly because of an ouchy shoulder the past two weeks, Lohse took
over from there.
Able to escape the first two innings unscathed despite allowing three hits to
his first seven batters faced, Lohse benefited from a double play, a caught
stealing and two strong defensive plays by Pujols to never face the tying run.
Randy Flores and Kyle McClellan took the game to the ninth inning and rookie
Perez allowed his first hit in five appearances before blowing away three
Lohse (4-2) picked up his first win since April 27. He allowed eight, seven and
four earned runs in successive starts earlier this month before manager Tony La
Russa conceded Lohse was dealing with discomfort after going
3-0 with a 2.36 ERA in April.
"I felt like I was able to make pitches whenever I needed to," Lohse said.
"That's a good feeling to have. That's a good feeling when they give you four
runs, and you are able to protect it."
Recent history may have influenced La Russa's decision to pluck Lohse from a
shutout after 96 pitches. Or it may have been that he enjoyed a well-rested
bullpen except for closer Ryan Franklin. Either way, the Cardinals have allowed
only nine runs during a 4-1 road trip that concludes Sunday afternoon.
Saturday's win gave the Cardinals win No. 30 in their 51st game. They didn't
arrive there last season until game No. 66 on June 17.
"They don't give out awards after a third of the season," Flores said. "They
don't give out pennants after a third of the season. But I think enough time
has passed that everybody sees the type of team we have. We're finding ways to
win. We're playing the game right. Good things usually happen when that's the
The win also lifted the Cardinals into a virtual tie with the Chicago Cubs for
the division lead, a place they had not been since May 11.
The Cardinals won with three players rotating at shortstop and Pujols as the
only infielder to play the same position for nine innings. In addition, third
baseman Troy Glaus was removed from the game with abdominal pain and was taken
to a hospital afterward for an examination. Glaus said he could not stand up
straight late in the game, and La Russa speculated Glaus' appendix may be the
source of the problem.
Most encouraging, however, was Lohse's command. The Dodgers placed two of the
first three runners he faced on base but were denied on a fly ball and a
Lohse ended the second inning with a double-play grounder. He got out of the
third inning when catcher Yadier Molina threw out Juan Pierre attempting to
steal down four runs.
Pujols put down a rally before it began with a sliding backhanded stop for the
fifth inning's second out.
One night after winning 2-1
the Cardinals crafted their third shutout win this season.