Lohse will try to boost his chances when he takes the mound for the Cardinals on Saturday as they continue a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
St. Louis’ first three spots in the playoff rotation will be filled by Adam Wainwright(notes), Chris Carpenter(notes) and Joel Pineiro(notes), but the fourth spot has been up for grabs between Lohse (6-9, 4.84 ERA) and John Smoltz(notes).
Saturday would be a good chance for Lohse to separate himself from Smoltz, who gave up six runs and walked five in four innings of a 6-1 loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Lohse has two stints on the disabled list and only two wins since May. After picking up a victory at Houston on Sept. 21, he gave up four runs in five innings of a 4-3 loss at Colorado on Sunday.
The veteran right-hander is 3-4 with a 5.54 ERA in 11 starts against the Brewers.
He’ll try to help the slumping Cardinals (91-68) regain some momentum as they head toward the postseason. The NL Central champions fell 12-6 to Milwaukee (78-82) on Friday for their 12th loss in 19 games and fourth in the last five.
The Cardinals had beaten Cincinnati 13-0 Thursday and took a 6-0 lead behind Adam Wainwright, who was seeking his 20th win. However, reliever Kyle McClellan(notes) gave up four runs and the bullpen continued to falter after that, eventually costing Wainwright the benchmark victory.
Wainwright insisted he wasn’t upset at McLellan. The St. Louis relievers had pitched 14 scoreless innings over the previous five games.
“What’s more important is he realizes it was just one outing and he’s going to have to be good for us in the playoffs if we want to do well,” Wainwright said.
The Brewers plated their most runs in the last 46 contests, and snapped a four-game losing streak.
Ryan Braun drove in three runs and scored on a wild pitch to cap a six-run seventh inning. Milwaukee’s left fielder is batting .406 with 11 RBIs in his last 16 games.
“We’re obviously not playing for anything so it’s pretty cool that everybody continued to play hard,” Braun said.
Villanueva has appeared in 63 games this season, including five starts in late July and early August. He was 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in those games.
The right-hander pitched two innings of relief against Colorado on Tuesday, allowing one run and three hits.
Villanueva has made six relief appearances against St. Louis this year, allowing two runs and six hits in eight innings.