ST. LOUIS (AP)—Tony La Russa is in his 32nd year as a manager. He can’t remember any of his pitching staffs being virtually untouchable this long.
Kyle Lohse(notes) threw eight innings of four-hit ball and the St. Louis Cardinals shut out the Kansas City Royals 5-0 for the second straight game Saturday, giving the rotation its fifth straight dominant outing.
Lohse (4-3) struck out six and walked none, shaking off three straight losses. Cardinals starters have allowed one run in 36 2-3 innings during a five-game winning streak in which St. Louis has outscored its opponents 18-2. Joel Pineiro(notes) turned in a complete game and Adam Wainwright(notes) went 8 2-3 innings in another start during this dazzling stretch.
“This would probably be the best I’ve had a chance to watch,” La Russa said. “How do you explain it? Just enjoy it.”
The streak is the franchise’s best since 1973 when St. Louis had three shutouts and allowed one run twice in the final five games.
Before the run, the starters walked 23 while getting swept in a three-game series against the Brewers.
“We’ll just try to keep it going,” Lohse said. “You don’t want to be the guy that messes up this string of starts we’ve got.”
Nick Stavinoha(notes) drove in two runs in the first for the second straight day, providing a fast start for a club that had lost seven of nine before the pitching staff took over. Skip Schumaker(notes) added his third homer, all in a span of 30 at-bats, in the third.
Miguel Olivo(notes) doubled twice but no runner made it past second for the Royals, who have lost 11 of 14 to fall one game below .500 (21-22) for the first time since they were 2-3 on April 11. Kansas City has been shut out three times, all in the last 13 games, and has 10 hits the last two games.
“When things go bad, they go bad in a hurry and usually in all areas,” manager Trey Hillman said.
The Royals had only three runners in scoring position against Lohse, who retired the side in order four times. He looked impressive after struggling on short rest in a makeup game against the Brewers on Monday, allowing four runs in four innings.
Lohse was taken out after being struck on the right elbow by Ron Mahay(notes) in the eighth, loading the bases. Lohse, who stayed in to run, had been squaring to bunt and wasn’t happy, although after the game he said he didn’t think Mahay hit him on purpose.
“There wasn’t really anywhere to go on that one,” Lohse said. “It was right at my chest. It would have been better if it hit me there instead of the arm.”
La Russa overruled pitching coach Dave Duncan and trainer Barry Weinberg, who were in favor of letting Lohse start the ninth with the right-hander at 98 pitches.
“He got blasted,” La Russa said. “I said ‘Nothing to gain from it.’ He’s going to be all pumped up, and we had a long inning, and everything’s against it.”
Luke Hochevar(notes) (0-2) retired the first two batters he faced before running into trouble. Albert Pujols(notes) walked and stole his seventh base without a throw. Chris Duncan(notes) also walked before Stavinoha doubled just inside the third-base line.
Hochevar allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings in his third start of the season, and best by far. He totaled 5 1-3 innings his first two outings, allowing 10 earned runs, and the first overall pick of the 2006 draft entered with an unsightly 16.88 ERA.
Pujols drew his major league-leading ninth intentional walk with two outs and a runner on second in the seventh. … Lohse has three scoreless outings, shutting out the Astros on April 12 at home and working six innings of four-hit ball April 28 at Atlanta in a 2-1 loss.