Nationals-Cardinals Preview

After a rough 2010 season, Kyle Lohse is again pitching well for

the St. Louis Cardinals.

The right-hander looks to win his third straight start Thursday

when he faces the Washington Nationals at Busch Stadium.

After going 4-8 with a 6.55 ERA in 18 starts while trying to

overcome a forearm strain last year, Lohse has bounced back nicely

in 2011. That’s nothing new for Lohse, who followed four straight

losing seasons with Minnesota, Cincinnati and Philadelphia by going

15-6 with a 3.78 ERA in his first season with St. Louis in

2008.

Lohse has lasted at least seven innings in each of his three

starts including Friday, when he allowed two runs over 7 1-3

innings and recorded his 1,000th strikeout in an 11-2 win at Los

Angeles.

“It is nice,” he told the Cardinals’ official website of the

milestone. “You have to be around a while to do that, so that is

pretty cool. It is a good feeling to be out there long enough to be

able to do it.”

Lohse is 3-2 with a 5.95 ERA in eight starts against the

Nationals, but has allowed only one earned run in 13 innings while

winning his last two versus Washington at Busch.

He will try to help the Cardinals (9-9) win their first home

series after splitting Wednesday’s doubleheader.

Washington (9-8) scored six times off Jake Westbrook in the

third inning en route to an 8-6 victory in the opener. The

Cardinals, however, got three hits and two RBIs from Lance Berkman

to help snap the Nationals’ four-game winning streak with a 5-3

victory in the nightcap.

St. Louis has won seven of 10.

Berkman, who went 4 for 7 on the day, is batting .452 with 14 of

his team-leading 15 RBIs coming in the last eight games.

“It’s a good run for me personally and for the team. It seems

like every time I come up there’s somebody out there,” said

Berkman, who is batting .399 and was named the NL’s player of the

week Monday. “I was hopeful something like this would happen, that

I’d get off to a good start and have something to build on.”

He is 10 for 21 with eight RBIs his last five games versus

Washington.

Albert Pujols went 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs in the

first game, but 0 for 3 in the nightcap. Though Pujols has hit four

of his five home runs over the last six games, he is batting a

career-low .243.

Pujols is hitting .316 with three doubles against Tom Gorzelanny

(0-1, 5.56), who is slated to take the mound for the Nationals.

The left-hander looks to build on his last outing when he gave

up two runs in six innings of a 4-3, 10-inning win over Milwaukee

on Friday.

Gorzelanny is 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA in eight starts against the

Cardinals, but 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA in three at St. Louis where he

has not pitched since 2008 with Pittsburgh.

Second baseman Danny Espinosa went 4 for 9 on Wednesday for the

Nationals. Former Cardinal Rick Ankiel had three hits on the day

and is 6 for 15 over his last four games.