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Lohse will be Cardinals' wild-card starter despite postseason woes

The SportsXchange

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny relied more on Kyle Lohse's success this season than his past postseason failures when he named Lohse as his starting pitcher for Friday's one-game National League wild-card playoff against the Atlanta Braves.

Lohse is 16-3, the best winning percentage of any National League starter, and his 2.86 ERA is fifth best in the league.

So it would seem like an easy choice to go with Lohse against a Braves lineup that will not include six-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann but will include veteran third baseman Chipper Jones, who may be playing his final game.

But Lohse has never won a postseason game, owning an 0-4 record and a 5.54 ERA in nine postseason appearances, including four starts.

Plus, one of his worst games of this season came at Atlanta on May 30, when he gave up five runs in five innings to the Braves in a 10-7 loss.

"It feels real good to know they trust you enough to pitch in a one-game playoff. That's something you dream about as a kid," Lohse told reporters Thursday.

Matheny said Lohse is "a guy who's been as consistent as you could ever ask any starter to be."

Lohse will oppose Braves starter Kris Medlen and may be making his final appearance for the Cardinals. Lohse is a free agent after this season.

It could also be the final game of Chipper Jones' career. The 40-year-old Jones announced during the spring this will be his final season, and he enters the postseason at less than 100 percent.

Jones, who's batting .287 with 14 homers in 112 games this season, sat out the final two games of the regular season with a sore back and sore knee. But he is expected to be in the lineup and bat cleanup on Friday.

However, McCann won't be in the starting lineup. An All-Star each of the six previous seasons, McCann has hit only .201 with two home runs since Aug. 1 as he battled shoulder soreness.

McCann, 28, has a frayed labrum and cyst in his right shoulder, and two cortisone injections in the second half of the season provided only temporary relief. He said there's a "good chance" he will have shoulder surgery in the offseason.

He finished the season hitting .230 with 20 homers, and he will be replaced as the starting catcher on Friday by David Ross.

"I've been thinking about this for three or four days," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told MLB.com. "Mac is a very important part of our team. He is a warrior. He battles.

"In the one-game series, you go with Rossy. In the longer series, [McCann] is going to play. He's not that banged up that he's not going to play."

Ross is batting .256 with nine homers in 62 games this season. He is considered a better defensive catcher than McCann, and that may help Medlen.

Medlen has made just 12 starts this season, and is 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA. Just as important is that he is 9-0 since becoming a starter on July 31, and the Braves are 12-0 in games he has started this season.
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