Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/22/11

Kyle Lohse pitched the best game of his 11-year career on Thursday afternoon as the Cardinals beat the Nationals at Busch Stadium.



On May 23, 2009, right-hander Kyle Lohse was on his way to his second shutout of the season when he was hit in the right forearm by an eighth-inning pitch from Kansas City left-hander Ron Mahay.

Lohse was unable to finish that game, nor was he able to pitch in all that many games for the rest of that season or last year because of the forearm condition that eventually involved delicate surgery last year.

But now Lohse is healthy and that second shutout as a Cardinal finally came on Thursday.

In what was his career best performance, Lohse limited Washington to two singles in a 5-0 victory, and he is 3-1 this season. He had only four victories last season and six in 2009, after winning 15 in his first season as a Cardinal in 2008.

"We've seen Kyle like this," manager Tony La Russa said. "This is the guy who won 15 games for us. He's been out there (the last two years) with less than his best and taking his beating at times. I think he enjoys just having a fair chance."

Lohse, who has a 2.01 earned run average for four starts, said:

"I had some tough times beating myself up, trying to figure out what was going on. It feels good to be back in that groove and being successful again."

He needed nothing more offensively than the 1-2 punch of first baseman Albert Pujols and left fielder Matt Holliday.

Holliday pounded a two-run home run in the first after a two-out walk to Pujols. Then Pujols ripped a 435-foot home run, his fifth in his last seven games, after a leadoff walk to center fielder Colby Rasmus in a three-run eighth.

This marked the first time the two sluggers had hit home runs in the same game this year, and the seventh time since Holliday joined the club in July, 2009.


INF Nick Punto, who will get plenty of playing time with 2B Skip Schumaker on the disabled list, has three walks in his first three games as a Cardinal, one of which he didn't start. The switch hitter, signed as a free agent from Minnesota, had been out nearly two months following abdominal surgery.

RHP Kyle McClellan, 2-0 in his first three big-league starts, will make the start Friday night against Cincinnati in a showdown of the teams tied for the National League Central Division lead. Last year, even though the Cardinals were outdistanced by the Reds by five games for the division title, the Cardinals won 12 of the 18 meetings.

RHP Kyle Lohse, Thursday's shutout winner, saved much of the bullpen through his efforts. Cardinal relievers had pitched 10 innings in a doubleheader the day before, but manager Tony La Russa still had RHP Miguel Batista and LHP reliever Trever Miller up and throwing in the ninth. They were fresh, as they were the only two relievers not to have worked on Wednesday.

After losing their first two series of the season, to San Diego and Pittsburgh, the Cardinals have won their last three. They took two of three at Arizona, three of four at Los Angeles and two of three at home against Washington.

The Cardinals still are listing Sunday night's pitcher as "to be announced." It would be RHP Jake Westbrook's turn but a rainout and a subsequent doubleheader means that Westbrook would be pitching on three days' rest Sunday. He threw only 67 pitches on Wednesday, however, in lasting three innings in an 8-6 loss to Washington.

BY THE NUMBERS: 55 - Number of two-out runs batted in by Matt Holliday since the start of last season. That total is the most in the National League.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Now he just makes pitches, and it's awesome."

- 1B Albert Pujols, on injury-plagued RHP Kyle Lohse, who is healthy now.



2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. Manager Tony La Russa said Schumaker might be out longer than 15 days.

OF Allen Craig (left groin strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 17. He hopes to return after the minimum absence.

LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13. He had screws inserted in his hand, and he hopes to return in early May.

RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13.

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.



Fri., Apr. 22 vs. REDS: Kyle McClellan (2-0, 1.89) vs. Edinson Volquez (2-0, 6.75) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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