ST. LOUIS -- Kyle Lohse was honored on his return to Busch Stadium Friday night with a standing ovation before his first at-bat.
But former battery mate Yadier Molina and the rookie pitcher he caught helped spoil the occasion for Lohse.
Molina homered and guided Shelby Miller through seven dominant innings against an injury-riddled lineup as St. Louis moved into first place in the National League Central with a 2-0 win over Milwaukee.
Miller (2-0) allowed a leadoff single to Norichika Aoki and nothing else, fanning a career-high eight and retiring the last 17 batters he faced. It was the third career start for Miller, who won last year's final regular-season game and replaced Lohse in the rotation.
"I was throwing a lot of pitches earlier in the game and they were fouling off a lot of pitches," Miller said. "But I settled in and started getting the ball down. It took me deeper into the game."
Miller struck out eight, including Ryan Braun twice, and threw 87 of his 113 pitches for strikes. Forty of those pitches were fouled off or Miller might have been able to finish what he started.
He did most of his work with a four-seam fastball that touched 94 miles per hour consistently, generating a lot of swinging strikes or harmless outs.
"You think you can catch up with it because you see it so well," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said, "and then it's by you. Overall, it's a pretty terrific night for Shelby."
It had to be for Miller to outduel Lohse (0-1), who turned in a typically efficient performance in his first game against the team for which he went 16-3 last year and finished seventh in Cy Young voting.
Working quickly and pounding the strike zone, Lohse needed just 82 pitches to work seven innings. He allowed six hits and no walks, but one of those hits was David Freese's RBI single in the second and another was Molina's seventh-inning homer, a 404-foot rope over the wall in left-center.
Despite an outstanding 2012, Lohse went through the entire offseason and most of spring training without an employer until the Brewers signed him to a three-year contract on March 25. With less than a week of spring training, Lohse has allowed just three runs on 11 hits in his first 13 innings.
"I stayed on a normal training program," the 34-year-old said. "I don't need that much spring training. I can tell by the hitters' reactions if my pitches are working."
Lohse was touched by the gesture of Molina, who walked out to the mound as Lohse took his first at-bat in the third inning so that the crowd of 42,528 could cheer him for five good years of work with St. Louis.
"He's more than a pitcher to me," Molina said. "He's my friend."
But friendship wasn't enough to keep Milwaukee (2-7), which is playing without third baseman Aramis Ramirez and first baseman Corey Hart due to injuries, from losing for the seventh time in eight games.
After Aoki's hit, the Brewers didn't manage another one until Jean Segura's one-out single in the ninth against Mitchell Boggs to put the potential tying runs aboard.
However, Boggs whiffed Braun and Rickie Weeks for his second save as the Cardinals (6-4) won their third straight game and recorded their second straight shutout.
"It was a nice job of pitching," Matheny said.
NOTES: Milwaukee third baseman Alex Gonzalez left the game in the bottom of the third inning with a left hand contusion after getting plunked by a second-inning pitch. He was replaced by first baseman Blake Lalli, with Yuniesky Betancourt moving from first to third. ... St. Louis honored the late Stan Musial before the game as members of his family threw out ceremonial first pitches. The teams also played with baseballs stamped with Musial's No. 6 on them. ... The Cardinals' second-inning run was their first in that inning this year.