Kyle Lohse pitched seven-plus stellar innings on Wednesday as World Series champions St Louis opened their Major League Baseball campaign with a 4-1 victory that spoiled Miami’s first game in their new ballpark.
Lohse, who got the starting nod because Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter was sidelined by a nerve problem in his shoulder, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Marlins.
Jose Reyes’ leadoff single ended Lohse’s bid to join Bob Feller as the only pitchers to toss an Opening Day no-hitter.
“It actually did cross my mind probably after five [innings],” Lohse said of the chance of a rare no-hitter. “I just felt good. Our defense played well behind me.”
He allowed only two other baserunners — hitting Emilio Bonifacio with a pitch in the fourth inning and surrendering a single to Logan Morrison in the eighth.
The Marlins’ new ballpark worked in his favor, as well, as Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton twice produced long fly outs that would no doubt have been home runs elsewhere.
Mike Matheny, who took over as Cardinals manager after Tony La Russa retired just three days after the team’s dramatic seven-game World Series triumph over Texas in October last year, opted to take Lohse out of the game with one out in the eighth.
Reliever Fernando Salas was not able to complete the shut-out as the Marlins’ John Buck drove in a run with a two-out double.
The Cardinals roughed up Miami starter Josh Johnson, tallying 10 hits off him in six innings.
World Series Most Valuable Player David Freese notched two RBIs in the first inning, his two-out, two-strike single scoring both Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman.
Rafael Furcal singled in the Cardinals’ third run in the third inning and Daniel Descalso drove in a run in the eighth.
“Tonight was fun,” Freese said. “It’s always nice to get the season going.”
As to the Cardinals’ chances of repeating as World Series champions, Freese said it was too soon to think about that.
“I think we can be there again, but we’re not worried about that,” he said. “You’ve got to worry about today. We’re happy we got this first win.”
The game was the only one on Wednesday’s slate, with more “Opening Day” festivities to follow yesterday with five National League games and two American League contests scheduled.
The season got a jump-start in Japan with a two-game series between Oakland and Seattle last week.