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Cardinals 5, Marlins 2

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MIAMI (AP)

Yadier Molina is keeping things simple and his approach is working.

The All-Star catcher hit a three-run homer and Kyle Lohse pitched into the eighth inning to lead the St. Louis Cardinals past the staggering Miami Marlins 5-2 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Molina has homered in three straight games to give him 12 this season, two shy of his career best set last year.

''I'm just trying to hit the ball, that's it,'' Molina said. ''Seeing the ball and trying to hit the ball. It's that simple.''

Molina's two-run shot with two outs in the ninth Monday night off Miami closer Heath Bell capped a four-run inning, and St. Louis went on to win 8-7 in 10 innings.

''He's amazing,'' Lohse said.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a former catcher himself, also is impressed by Molina.

''He continues to just improve, which seems hard for a guy - and I've never been shy in saying, I think he is the best in the game,'' Matheny said. ''He just doesn't rest on that. If there's something in the top level he's just working until he figures it out. You just can't say enough. We're spoiled around here.''

Lohse (7-2) allowed two runs and four hits while striking out four. He is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA at the new Marlins Ballpark.

''It's only two starts, but you have certain parks where you feel comfortable in and this happens to be one so far,'' Lohse said.

Jason Motte pitched the ninth for his 16th save in 20 chances.

One night after Molina's tying homer in the ninth keyed a huge comeback, St. Louis scored five unearned runs in the first.

''It's nice when these guys come out with that kind of aggressiveness,'' Matheny said. ''Fortunately, that was enough because that's all we had.''

The Marlins have lost eight of nine and are 3-17 in their last 20 games. Miami manager Ozzie Guillen was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with plate umpire Dan Bellino.

''After I (saw) the replay, I think I was wrong,'' Guillen said. ''At least I'm honest.''

The Cardinals jumped out to a big early lead, aided by errors from Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano (4-6) and shortstop Jose Reyes. Molina took advantage of the miscues with his 12th homer. Carlos Beltran had an RBI single.

''(Zambrano) made a mistake, other teammates made a couple mistakes, and we made them pay,'' Molina said.

Giancarlo Stanton's 17th home run and Greg Dobbs' sacrifice fly pulled the Marlins to 5-2.

Miami threatened in the sixth after Reyes and Hanley Ramirez reached, but Lohse got out of the jam when shortstop Rafael Furcal snagged a hard-hit grounder by Logan Morrison and turned a double play.

''It's a crazy play and then to get over to the bag like he did and the strong throw,'' Matheny said. ''He's just fun to watch when he gets going. He's been playing Gold Glove-caliber this year.''

Guillen was tossed in the seventh. Following a walk issued by Zambrano to Allen Craig that loaded the bases, Guillen came out of the dugout to lift Zambrano. Guillen walked by Bellino to voice his displeasure with a call and was ejected. It was Guillen's first ejection as the Marlins' manager and 28th overall.

''I don't think he understood what I said,'' Guillen explained. ''He looked at me like I was (an) alien or something.''

Zambrano pitched 6 2-3 innings, allowing five unearned runs and seven hits. He struck out five and walked five while throwing 73 of 125 pitches for strikes.

''I was too quick to second base (in the first inning) and threw the ball into center field,'' Zambrano said. ''But on the other hand, I was able to pitch six innings and save the bullpen.''

NOTES: Furcal has scored a run in a team-high six straight games. ... Marlins lefty reliever Mike Dunn has recorded four straight perfect appearances. ''If he throws the ball like he has, that's going to be a huge move for us,'' Guillen said. ''It would be like trading for somebody. We need him very bad.'' ... Marlins RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-6, 3.94 ERA) will oppose RHP Joe Kelly (1-0, 3.52 in the series finale on Wednesday. Sanchez is 1-4 with a 6.49 ERA in his last six starts.

Tagged: Cardinals, Marlins, Kyle Lohse, Carlos Zambrano, Yadier Molina, Heath Bell

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