Lohse strong in Busch return, but Brewers lose
ST. LOUIS Kyle Lohse had no complaints about his first start in St. Louis since changing teams. Going on six days' rest and off a very short spring, he kept his team in the game.
"The main thing I wanted was to get through this one," Lohse said after working seven efficient innings in a 2-0 loss to rookie Shelby Miller and the Cardinals on Friday night. "I got out there and did my thing without my best stuff. That shows where I'm at mentally."
Lohse (0-1) has given the Brewers all they could have expected after signing a three-year, $33 million free agent deal on March 25. In his debut, he allowed one run in six innings against the Diamondbacks and got no decision in a 3-1 loss.
"It's a good offensive team and he spotted the ball really well, changed speeds on his pitches," manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's a shame you get those kind of outings and sometimes you just don't score. But if he keeps throwing like that, we're going to have a nice year with him."
Lohse said the lack of routine was as much of a challenge as facing the Cardinals for the first time since 2007.
"I've done it before, I just haven't done it in a while," Lohse said. "I wasn't completely in sync, the extra days off and stuff kind of got to me a little bit."
Miller allowed one hit in seven innings, a single by Norichika Aoki to open the game, and the Cardinals had just enough to spoil Lohse's return.
A near-sellout crowd of 42,528 bundled up on a 44-degree night for the second Stan Musial tribute of the opening homestand, featuring a harmonica giveaway and the unveiling of a memorial plaque attached to the iconic Musial statue outside Busch Stadium. Seven members of the Musial family threw simultaneous first pitches and Musial's No. 6 was cut into the outfield grass in center.
David Freese had an RBI single at the end of a three-hit flurry to open the second and Yadier Molina hit his second homer in the seventh for the Cardinals, who have allowed one run during a three-game winning streak.
Lohse, a 16-game winner whom the Cardinals did not attempt to re-sign, allowed two runs in seven innings while throwing 82 pitches — 31 fewer than Miller needed. He received a nice ovation before his first at-bat leading off the third, with hundreds of fans standing.
"It was pretty cool," Lohse said. "I felt like I did my thing here and it was appreciated. It was nice of them to show some appreciation for what I've done, it shows you what kind of fans they have here."
Miller (2-0) had a career-best eight strikeouts in his third career start, one more than he had in his debut against the Reds in the 2012 regular-season finale. He retired his final 17 in order after hitting Alex Gonzalez with one out in the second, and fanned Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez twice each.
Lohse pulled a nice escape in the second, holding the Cardinals to one run after giving up three straight hits in the second. He allowed one hit the next four innings before Molina homered with one out in the seventh.
Lohse, who is 30-18 with a 3.39 ERA at Busch Stadium, made his first start in St. Louis in an opposition uniform since a 5-1 win for the Reds on June 7, 2007.
Trevor Rosenthal retired the side in order in the eighth and Mitchell Boggs stranded two runners in the ninth, striking out Braun and Rickie Weeks to earn his second save in four chances to wind up a game played in 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Carlos Beltran led off the first with a broken-bat single that gave him a .575 average (23 for 40) against Lohse, and the Cardinals had runners on second and third after Braun, leaving his feet at the last second on a running attempt, couldn't hang onto Molina's double to the gap to left-center. Freese singled up the middle on the next pitch to put St. Louis ahead, but Lohse got eighth-place hitter Pete Kozma on a called third strike and Miller grounded into a double play.
NOTES: Aoki is 12 for 25 during a six-game hitting streak. ... Cardinals rookie Matt Adams, the backup first baseman, was on the bench despite his .643 average. "He's done a nice job for them," Roenicke said before the game. "Hopefully, he's not in there a lot." ... The Brewers Alex Gonzalez got hit by a pitch on the left hand in the second and was taken out the next inning. X-rays were negative and he was day to day.