Cardinals 6, Astros 1
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP)
Kyle Lohse will leave his new curveball in Florida when the season starts.
''We tried it. That's what spring training is for, to mess around with pitches,'' Lohse said Tuesday after pitching five innings in his fourth spring start for the St. Louis Cardinals. ''But if you don't have confidence in something, you're not going to be able to execute it.
''It was a good pitch in the bullpen, but when I got in the game I couldn't control it.''
Lohse has gone back to his old curveball grip, and it worked well in a 6-1 exhibition victory over the Houston Astros.
''It's my fourth pitch so it's not a huge thing to mess around with,'' he said. ''I tried it and didn't like it so I went back. The one thing I got out of it is when I went back to my old grip, now I'm finishing it better. So maybe it has made my old curveball better.''
Coming off a 14-8 season that ended in a World Series start, Lohse gave up three hits Tuesday, including Chris Johnson's second home run.
''He's been that one-bad-inning guy,'' manager Mike Matheny said. ''If he gets through that inning, he's going to be good until he gets to his pitch count for the day. In general I know that's been a nemesis for him.''
Houston starter Jordan Lyles' bad inning came in the first, when Matt Holliday tripled in two runs.
Competing for a spot in Houston's rotation, Lyles gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings.
''A lot of balls were hit hard in that first inning,'' Lyles said. ''It was just me missing my spots and them doing a good job of hitting it hard.''
Eric Komatsu, a Rule V acquisition from Washington, had three of the Cardinals' 12 hits and scored twice.
Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie left the game early after fouling a pitch off his foot in the first inning.
''It's not baseball season until you foul one off your foot or get hit by a pitch,'' said Lowrie, who expects to play again by Friday.
NOTES: Immediately after the game, the Astros acquired left-handed pitcher Kevin Chapman and a player to be named later from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for outfielder Jason Bourgeois and catcher Humberto Quintero . . . Johnson, who lost his regular third-base job last season, is back in the competition with Jimmy Paredes. ''I want to see these guys continue to keep that focus and concentration all the way through, and we've got 16 games left,'' manager Brad Mills said. ''We don't need to sit here and announce anything yet.'' If Johnson starts the opener at third base, he will be the only Astros starter who started at the same position on opening day last year . . . Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer's left hand remains sore after he injured on a diving catch Sunday. Schafter won't play until the weekend at the earliest . . . The Cardinals announced after the game that pitchers Chuckie Fick, Sam Freeman and Adam Ottavino had been optioned to Triple-A Memphis, and pitchers Trevor Rosenthal and R.J. Swindle, infielder Ryan Jackson and catcher Steven Hill have been reassigned.