Cards, Lohse fall in Houston series opener

The St. Louis Cardinals were defeated in their weekend series opener at Houston's Minute Maid Park Friday night.

Right-hander Kyle Lohse failed to join Lance Lynn as St. Louis starters to open their seasons at 5-0.


Lohse was not quite his April self as he allowed five runs in five innings to the Houston Astros on Friday night. However, two of those runs were unearned, and perhaps just one of the five should have scored if the Cardinals' defense had performed better.


On the other hand, Lohse pointed to the three-run homer he gave up to Jose Altuve in the second inning, the difference-maker in a 5-4 Houston victory.

The Cardinals have lost two in a row for the third time this season. They have not dropped three straight.


Lohse (4-1) reached 99 pitches far faster than he wanted to, pitching deep into counts more than earlier in the season even though he walked just one, marking the fifth time in six starts he had walked either none or one. It was obvious he had an occasional disagreement with plate umpire Paul Emmel, once disgustedly catching Yadier Molina's return throw to the mound with his bare hand.


"A couple of calls could have gone either way," Lohse said. "It was tough. You're out there grinding and you feel like you're doing everything you can, hitting your spots ... and you keep running full counts and 2-2 counts.


"(The Astros) made me work more than I have had to in recent starts."


The Astros scored two of their runs in the first inning after rookie right fielder Matt Carpenter failed to make an awkward diving play on Jordan Schafer's liner.


"The ball's got to be caught. That's the bottom line," Carpenter said. "I misplayed it.


"That's an out, and Lohse and everybody expect that to be an out. You make a pitch like that and the ball's got to be caught.


Another error in the second, this time on a wild throw to second by Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig on Schafer's potential double-play ball, led to Altuve's homer.


"I'm not going to make excuses," Craig said. "It's a double-play ball. It's a fairly routine play. I should have made it. I just threw it away. It's one of those you wish you could have back."


But Lohse, referencing Altuve's homer, said, "That's not what lost the game."


Notes, Quotes

1B Lance Berkman, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf, tried to run a bit before Friday's game in Houston and still felt some soreness. The plan now is for Berkman not to try to run again until the team gets to Arizona on Monday. "It didn't go as well as I wanted it to," said Berkman, who is eligible to be activated. "It's more tight then painful, but it's also a little sore."

CF Jon Jay, besides getting two hits and keeping his average over .400 (.414), made three outstanding defensive plays. "His jumps and his anticipation have really been impressive," manager Mike Matheny said. "That's something that doesn't go unnoticed around here. He gets to balls that, most of the time you see them come off the bat, nobody's going to get to them."

RF Carlos Beltran, who had a scheduled day off Thursday after driving in a career-high seven runs the night before, received an unscheduled rest Friday. Beltran said he felt something in the muscle in the back of his right leg, near the hamstring area, while doing some flexibility drills Thursday. He told manager Mike Matheny he could play, and he did pinch-hit, flying out. Matheny said Beltran would play Saturday.

OF Erik Komatsu, a Rule 5 draft from last year's winter meetings whom the Cardinals hoped to pass through waivers, was claimed by Minnesota. "I'm happy for him. Sad for us," manager Mike Matheny said. "I had the feeling that once we let him go, we wouldn't see him."

1B Allen Craig drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. He has four RBI in three games since coming off the disabled list after recovering from knee surgery.

By The Numbers:

7 - Consecutive winning decisions for RHP Kyle Lohse, over two seasons, before the streak was snapped Friday.

Quote To Note:

"It's something I'm not happy about still. It's hard for me to conceive of the Astros as an American League team."

—1B Lance Berkman, a former Houston player and current Houston resident on the Astros' move next year to the AL. Berkman earlier this spring had to back off a charge that Major League Baseball had "extorted" the Astros to move.


Medical Watch:

RF Carlos Beltran (right leg soreness) didn't start May 4, but he appeared as a pinch hitter. He is expected to start May 5.

1B Lance Berkman (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 19. He had difficulty when he attempted running May 3, and the timetable for his return was uncertain.

RHP Scott Linebrink (right shoulder capsulitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30. He felt tightness during an April 30 bullpen session, and he didn't appear close to a return.

RHP Chris Carpenter (weak right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He isn't likely to begin a real throwing program until May and probably won't pitch until at least June.

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