While the rest of the Cardinals’ dominant rotation has stayed healthy this season, Lohse hasn’t.
Lohse makes his first start in more than three weeks Saturday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves, as he’ll try to help St. Louis avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time since late July.
Lohse (5-8, 4.62 ERA) was 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA in 2008, helping keep the Cardinals (84-58) stay afloat despite a rotation decimated by injuries.
As Chris Carpenter(notes), Adam Wainwright(notes) and Joel Pineiro(notes) have stayed healthy this season, it’s been Lohse who’s been unable to stay off the disabled list. First a strained right forearm sidelined him for nearly six weeks prior to the All-Star break, then a strained left groin kept Lohse out from Aug. 23-Sept. 7.
Lohse threw one scoreless inning of relief Tuesday, and now will make his first start since Aug. 21, when he gave up three runs and four hits over four innings in a loss at San Diego.
“I know he’s feeling strong and healthy, and now we’ll see how sharp he is,” manager Tony La Russa said. “I know he’s excited to get out there.”
La Russa plans on using Lohse in the rotation for the rest of the regular season. After the Cardinals fell short of the playoffs a year ago, Lohse is just eager to contribute to a team with World Series aspirations.
“I’d like to start but it’s not up to me,” said Lohse, who’s 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA at home. “I’m just looking forward to some October baseball. I’ll help out whatever way I can.”
St. Louis entered Friday with a one-game lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the NL, but finds itself even after a dominant performance from Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens(notes). The right-hander pitched eight innings, outdueling Pineiro in the Braves’ 1-0 victory.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, beat San Francisco 10-3 to pull even with the Cardinals.
While Lohse has spent two months on the shelf, that pales in comparison to the amount of time Atlanta starter Tim Hudson(notes) (1-0, 2.19) has logged on the disabled list. Hudson made his season debut Sept. 1 - his first start since July 23, 2008 - after undergoing elbow surgery last summer that kept him out for more than a year.
Hudson hasn’t shown any sign that he’s been negatively affected by the long layoff. He won his first start against Florida, then allowed a run over seven innings with six strikeouts Sunday against Cincinnati in a 4-2, 12-inning loss.
“For the most part things are starting to zero in for me,” Hudson said. “My curveball and my split were really good today. Those are pitches I haven’t had in a really long time.”