Cardinals-Marlins Preview

JEFF BARTL (STATS Writer)
The Associated Press

When the St. Louis Cardinals seemed to be reverting back to the offensive struggles that plagued them recently, they exploded in the late innings to surprise the troubled Miami Marlins in the series opener.

With the stingy Kyle Lohse on the hill, they may have a good chance to extend their winning streak to a season-best five Tuesday night at Marlins Park.

St. Louis' lineup was struggling to score until busting out for 30 runs in a three-game sweep of Kansas City over the weekend. By comparison, the team scored 34 runs while going 5-7 from June 8-21.

It appeared as if the Cardinals (39-35) were headed to another low-scoring performance when they trailed 6-1 after seven innings Monday, but a run in the eighth, four in the ninth and two in the 10th got them a stirring 8-7 win.

"Unbelievable," manager Mike Matheny said. "Through some crazy stuff, guys getting out of jams, it was a great effort."

Yadier Molina hit a game-tying, two-out, two-run homer off Heath Bell in the ninth before St. Louis eventually earned its seventh straight win over the Marlins.

"Plain and simple this loss is on me," said Bell, who allowed his first runs in 11 appearances.

Run support has been lacking lately for Lohse, who has gotten four total runs in his last three starts while pitching at least seven innings each time.

Lohse (6-2, 2.85 ERA) is 1-1 with a 1.66 ERA in that stretch after allowing one run and four hits in seven innings of St. Louis' 2-1, 10-inning loss at Detroit on Thursday.

"He threw a great game," Matheny told the team's official website. "We had plenty of other chances to put runs across the board and really take advantage of a great start like that."

Lohse was the first pitcher to win a game in the new Marlins Park, allowing one run and two hits in 7 1-3 innings of the Cardinals' 4-1 opening-night victory April 4.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA in nine road starts this season as he seeks another solid performance against the Marlins (34-39), who have lost 16 of 19 following Monday's devastating defeat.

"Very disappointed," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You're pitching well and all of a sudden they score seven or eight runs. This is something you have to sleep on and come back tomorrow. It's going to stick in your head for a little while. It's a hard one."

Miami couldn't build any momentum after ending a six-game losing streak with a 9-0 win over Toronto on Sunday, one of only two shutout wins for the Marlins this year.

Carlos Zambrano went the distance in the other one May 7 against Houston, but he's been erratic of late.

Zambrano (4-5, 4.01) had a 2.81 ERA through his first 11 starts, but he has pitched only 9 1-3 innings over his last three outings while going 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA. The right-hander has walked 13 in that stretch, including four along with two hit batters during Miami's 6-5 loss Thursday at Boston.

Zambrano, who spent his first 11 major league seasons pitching in the NL Central with the Cubs, is 12-6 with a 3.40 ERA in 31 appearances against the Cardinals, including 3-0 with a 3.11 ERA in his last six starts.