Lohse looks to build on season debut

Lohse looks to build on season debut

Published Apr. 10, 2012 8:48 a.m. ET

(AP) -- David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals are doing just fine at the plate.

They may not need to do much with Kyle Lohse on the mound.

Lohse looks to build on a dazzling season debut and keep the Cardinals surging when they continue their three-game road series against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

St. Louis (4-1) has outscored the opposition 31-16 over its first five games, hitting .317 with nine homers. Freese has been a big part of that success, going 10 for 24 with two homers and eight RBIs while getting at least one hit in each contest.

"That's a tough pace to keep up, but you take 'em when you can get 'em," first-year manager Mike Matheny said. "Guys are having some good at-bats."

Freese continued his season-opening tear with two hits including a two-run homer as the Cardinals won Monday's series opener 7-1. Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina also went deep for St. Louis.

"I don't see us as very much of a home run-hitting team," said Freese, last year's World Series MVP.

Freese's reasoning likely stems from the departure of Albert Pujols, who joined the Los Angeles Angels via free agency after 11 seasons as the slugging cornerstone of the Cardinals.

Lohse (1-0, 1.23 ERA) didn't need much help from the offense Wednesday, as he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a 4-1 season-opening victory at Miami. The veteran right-hander left with one out in the eighth after giving up one run and two hits, also hitting a batter.

"I was just trying to keep having them hit balls at people," Lohse told the Cardinals' official website. "I felt like Yadier was calling a great game back there, and I was just following him around."

Lohse, a member of the Reds (2-2) from 2006-07, is 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA in seven starts against his former club since joining St. Louis in 2008.

This time, he's facing a Cincinnati team that saw its average drop to .218 after mustering just three singles Monday.

Joey Votto is 2 for 13 with one homer and two RBIs through four games after signing a 10-year, $225 million contract extension. The All-Star first baseman is 0 for 11 in his last three meetings with the Cardinals, including an 0-for-3 effort Monday.

The Reds are scheduled to give Mike Leake his first start of the season Tuesday.

The right-hander went 12-9 with a 3.86 ERA last year, but some early-season struggles led first to a demotion to the bullpen and then a May stint in the minors. He was more effective upon his return to the majors, posting a 3.36 ERA over his final 20 starts.

Leake struggled in spring training with a 5.14 ERA in five games, but manager Dusty Baker is opting to give him the ball even with opening day starter Johnny Cueto on normal rest.

"You have to pitch Leake sometime," Baker said. "You don't want Leake to go two weeks without pitching. It's a long (season), and the extra day won't hurt Johnny, either."

Leake is 1-1 with a 6.97 ERA in three games - two starts - against the Cardinals, with all of those appearances coming in Cincinnati.