Cardinals' Kyle Lohse Strong vs. Mets, Set for Opening Day Start

4 years 6 months 3 weeks ago March 31, 2012 Mar 31, 2012 Saturday, March 31 2012 Saturday, March 31, 2012 10:41:56 AM CDT in Baseball
By: Associated Press

JUPITER, FL (AP) -- After notching his third win of the spring in the Cardinals' 4-3 victory over the New York Mets on Friday, Kyle Lohse said he's ready to make St. Louis' Opening Day start.

Lohse allowed only one unearned run on three hits while striking out seven in six innings. The right-hander also drove in a run.

"I felt good out there," said Lohse, whose next start will be the April 4 season opener at Miami. "It was a nice way to wrap up spring training, using all my pitches to get some good bad swings. Overall I felt strong."

Lohse attributed a renewed feel for his curve ball as a major factor in his effectiveness.

Earlier in the spring Lohse experimented with a new grip on the pitch. In recent weeks he's gone back to the old grip.

Two of his seven strikeouts on Monday came on curveballs.

"These last couple starts it's been a really good pitch for me," Lohse said.

The afternoon wasn't free of trepidation, though.

Omar Quintanilla's hard-hit grounder in the third inning one-hopped off Lohse's pitching hand. Lohse initially couldn't find the ball, and when he did the throw to first was not in time.

After the play the trainer came out to check on Lohse, who said he simply needed a few moments to let the tingling in his ring finger and pinkie subside.

Lohse was given an error -- the second consecutive St. Louis error -- making the run scored by Mike Nickeas on the play unearned.

"I'll take it," Lohse said with a laugh.

Lohse stayed in the game, allowing only one more hit and walking one through the final three innings.

"That was nice," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Lohse's final tune-up. "He looked good. He looked real good."

Trailing 1-0, the Cardinals took the lead for good in the fourth. Matt Carpenter smacked a one-out double, and came around to tie the game on Yadier Molina's single. That's also the inning Lohse helped himself by poking an RBI single over first baseman Justin Turner's glove, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.

Two innings later Carpenter struck again, launching Dillon Gee's first pitch over the left field wall, extending the Cardinals' lead to 3-1. The homer was Carpenter's second of the spring. St. Louis added a second run in the inning when Adam Melker, pinch hitting for Lohse, drove a ball off the top of the right field wall for a double that scored Bryan Anderson.

New York starter Dillon Gee took the loss after allowing 10 hits and four runs in six innings.

"Today was really weird," Gee said. "I felt awesome in the 'pen, felt pretty good in the first inning, then I kind of lost it after that. I feel like I was struggling and battling myself the whole game."

Jason Motte pitched around a one-out single to record his first save of the spring.

Matt Holliday had two hits for St. Louis, as did Vinny Ruttino for the Mets.

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