The Cardinals Major League Notebook 04/29

A concern for the Cardinals the last few days had been the condition of Kyle Lohse's right knee, which he jammed on a fielding play at first base Thursday in St. Louis.

The knee was fine Tuesday night in Atlanta. Lohse wasn't fine, as he got sick before and during the Cardinals' game with the Atlanta Braves.

"A couple of times I barely got off the field," he said.

Still, Lohse held the Braves to just four hits and four walks over six scoreless innings.

"It was really a hellacious effort," manager Tony La Russa said. It was a winning effort, except the Cardinals didn't win.

La Russa said his position players, especially after the second inning, didn't swing the bat as aggressively as they had been. Indeed, the Cardinals had just one hit, Yadier Molina's seventh-inning single, after the second inning. Before that, they had only two singles, one Molina's run-scoring single off the glove of Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones in the first, and Lohse's single in the second.

And when the Braves rallied for two runs in the eighth on Matt Diaz's single, "a seeing-eye" groundball, as La Russa put it, the Cardinals wound up losing 2-1.

"You sit on a one-run lead and you put yourself into position for that to happen," La Russa said. "A groundball single like that ... that's a shame."

Right-hander Kyle McClellan, who loaded the bases before pitching out of trouble in the eighth inning the night before, walked the leadoff hitter, Omar Infante, and then two others in the eighth Tuesday -- including Jeff Francoeur, who is very hard to walk.

That loaded the bases for Diaz, who took a close 1-2 pitch for a ball. Asked if it were a strike, McClellan said, "It doesn't matter what I think."

Ball three was very high and inside, and then Diaz reached out and poked the full-count pitch past diving shortstop Khalil Greene.

McClellan and La Russa both lamented the leadoff walk, but McClellan, who meant to pitch around Jones (who walked in all four plate appearances), also took himself to task for walking Francoeur after he had fanned Casey Kotchman.

"You've got to get Francoeur there," McClellan said. "You've got to make him put the ball in play."

As to why La Russa left McClellan in, the manager responded, "He was pitching efficiently. Didn't he strike out Kotchman?"

BRAVES 2, CARDINALS 1: The Cardinals, featuring excellent plays by 2B Brendan Ryan and CF Rick Ankiel, played a second consecutive clean defensive game after committing 20 errors in their first 19 games. But they also had just three singles, one by RHP Kyle Lohse, and struck out 11 times, including a hat trick in the ninth inning. Atlanta closer Mike Gonzalez fanned LF Colby Rasmus, 1B Albert Pujols and RF Ryan Ludwick in succession.

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