Lohse, Cardinals open Houston series with win

Behind Kyle Lohse, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the visiting Astros by a 4-1 score Tuesday night.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Right-hander Kyle Lohse improved his record to 15-3, the highest winning percentage (.833) in the major leagues, by beating Houston 4-1 on Tuesday night. The victory nudged the Cardinals' wild card lead to 1 1/2 games over Los Angeles, which was rained out in Washington.

 

Relative to Cy Young Award consideration, a few pitchers have won more games than Lohse, but, besides his top winning percentage, he is tied for second in the league in ERA at 2.71.

 

"If we would have been able to hold some of the leads that he had, there's no question he'd be right at the top of that mix," said manager Mike Matheny. "But, still with a 15-3 record, he's got to be in there in the talk."

 

Catcher Yadier Molina said of Lohse's Cy Young chances, "Of course he needs to be considered."

 

Lohse said, "I know I'm up there in a lot of stats. I'm sure a lot of people look at strikeouts and I don't have that many (129). But I'm pretty consistent doing what I do."

 

And Matheny said, "He's thriving on being that guy for us who's really set the bar for the rest of the starters."

 

Lohse knocked in his third run of the season when he chopped a high bounder, good for a double, over the head of third baseman Matt Dominguez to help spark a two-run fifth inning. Lohse is 6-for-60 (.100) as a hitter.

 

The Cardinals scored their first run in the second when Daniel Descalso, just 8-for-77 with men in scoring position (.104), singled to right to score Molina.

 

Lohse gave the Cardinals' dugout and the Busch Stadium a crowd a fright in the sixth when he slipped and fell while delivering a pitch, but he remained in the game.

 

"That didn't look good at all," Matheny said. "He elbowed himself or kneed himself. It was just kind of awkward looking. But the first thing I was thinking it was something related to the hamstring or a knee."

 

Lohse said, "I was trying to throw a fastball inside and the next thing I know I'm on the ground. It started when (his foot) slid out from under me. I hit my knee. Then I hit my other knee. I hit my triceps on my right side. I was looking around to make sure nobody was laughing. They didn't laugh until they knew I was OK."

 

NOTES, QUOTES

RHP Jason Motte gained his 36th save, helped by good defensive plays from CF Jon Jay and 3B David Freese in the ninth. In the eighth, LHP Marc Rzepczynski had relieved RHP Mitchell Boggs to pitch out of a two-on, two-out spot as RF Shane Robinson made a good running catch to end the inning. Robinson said he had acted on a tip from Jay during the pitching change to be aware for Houston SS Jed Lowrie trying to take a breaking ball the other way.

RHP Jake Westbrook, who has been out 10 days with a strained right oblique, will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday night and said he could be ready to return a week from now. "I missed a week of throwing, so I just need to get my arm in shape to start a game," said Westbrook, although manager Mike Matheny said he didn't have a timetable for Westbrook's return.

RHP Chris Carpenter's first start of the season, after nearly a year-long struggle with a nerve condition that affected his right shoulder and necessitated surgery, will be Friday in Chicago's Wrigley Field, where his third and last start of the 2008 season, after a lengthy rehab for an elbow problem, took place on Aug. 10 of that year. Asked if there would be added intensity for him in this stretch-drive start, Carpenter replied, "I've pitched in plenty of games that mattered. I'm going out there with the same focus."

With RHP Chris Carpenter returning to action, RHP Jake Westbrook reasonably near and RHP Lance Lynn impressive last week in Los Angeles, RHP Joe Kelly, out of the rotation for now, might well finish the regular season as a reliever. Kelly has a 5-6 record and 3.60 earned run average for 18 games, 16 of them starts and most of them quality starts. "He'll always be in play," said manager Mike Matheny, "just like before when we put him in the bullpen. It's a nice problem of having multiple guys who can step in and start or come out of the pen."

SS Rafael Furcal still is on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his right elbow and, though Furcal has begun strengthening exercises, manager Mike Matheny said he was awaiting information from the medical staff if Furcal would be available for any kind of service as a pinch hitter or runner.

By the Numbers:

1 - Number of extra-base hits for RHP Kyle Lohse this season. He bounced a ball for a double on Tuesday.

Quote to Note:

"Just another day at the beach."

- C Yadier Molina, joking after being hit by several foul tips in various parts of his body on Tuesday.

MEDICAL WATCH

RHP Jake Westbrook (strained right oblique) will miss a start or two but apparently will be able to pitch again this season.

1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) underwent additional surgery Sept. 14 and is out for the season. His career might be over as well.

RHP Chris Carpenter (right shoulder surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 10. He threw for the first time since March on June 13 and then threw another 40 pitches on June 15. He threw to hitters for the first time June 22 but then had a setback June 25 when he felt renewed weakness in the shoulder. He said it felt better the next day, and he had an extensive throwing session off flat ground June 27. On June 28, he was told he has thoracic outlet syndrome, which can cause, among its effects, weakness in one's shoulder. He underwent what was believed to be season-ending surgery July 19 to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome. He is scheduled to come off the disabled list on Friday, September 21.

SS Rafael Furcal (torn ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the knife.

RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10.

Link to boxscore: St. Louis 4, Houston 1

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