Lohse has positive end to 2010 season

Kyle Lohse pitched seven shutout innings in the Cardinals' Saturday win over Colorado.

ST. LOUIS – Much like Chris Carpenter two nights before, Kyle Lohse needed a start like he had Saturday afternoon to give him positive vibes going into the offseason.

But Lohse didn't just need a good outing. After missing three months with arm surgery and struggling since he returned, Lohse desperately needed something positive for him to take with him heading into next year.

That sure happened Saturday as Lohse tossed seven shutout innings in his best start in more than a year as the Cardinals eked out a 1-0 win in 12 innings over the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium.

Lohse didn't earn the win but he pitched well enough to deserve it. The right-hander allowed just three hits and struck out five, dueling Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez pitch for pitch.

"The only way it would have been better had been if he was the winning pitcher," said manager Tony La Russa. "He made so many great pitches. That's exactly what I told him when I shook his hand at the end. I said ‘perfect way to finish. Go into the off season feeling good.'"

Unlike several of his starts this year, Lohse didn't cave when he got in trouble. The right-hander used double-play balls to get out of jams in the first and second innings and got out of a first and second, nobody out jam in the fifth.

Lohse needed something good to happen Saturday. It did.

"I wish I would have had more like that but it definitely feels good having an outing like that," Lohse said. "I'll take that into the offseason as a positive and come back ready next year.

"I changed a couple things mechanically in my wind up and I just wanted to tinker around and see what things I can mess with and take into the offseason and work on and improve, so it was a good way to go out. I felt good today."

Lohse missed a large part of the 2009 season while dealing with a forearm issue stemming from an incident last May when he was hit on the forearm by a pitch by the Royals' Ron Mahay. He missed much of the year but returned late in the season and thought rest would make him completely healthy coming into 2010.

But Lohse soon realized that wasn't the case, and had surgery May 28 to fix the issue in his forearm. He returned in August and struggled to find any consistency. But he pitched Sunday like the Cardinals hope he will pitch next season, giving him and the team a sense of relief going forward.

"That's all the difference in the world," La Russa said. "The difference between working out to get in good shape and maintain it versus rehabbing. Hopefully he will be a lot like Carp. Carp spent a couple of winters just trying to get healthy and that's a much tougher off day than if you just go to the gym to get yourself ready.  He's in great position. We're excited about him."

Lohse finishes the 2010 season with a 4-8 record and a 6.55 ERA. But Saturday's outing has him thinking big things for 2011.

"The way my year has gone, yes," Lohse said. "It's been frustrating to start the year off not being 100 percent and then sitting out all that time and not being able to help the team like I wanted to. It felt good to finish on a good positive note. It's good. It kind of eases your mind going into next year, being able think about that instead of all the other stuff."

The Cardinals will play their final game of the season on Sunday when Jeff Suppan makes the start at 1:15 p.m.



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