Lohse stays low to reel in Marlins

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Kyle Lohse carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning as the St. Louis Cardinals spoiled the opening of Marlins Park for the hosts.On the night when Marlins Park opened and the new-look Miami Marlins were looking to take center stage, Kyle Lohse and the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals stole the show.

6 Innings Without Allowing a Hit
Opening Day since 1995

Lohse carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Jose Reyes led off the inning with a single. Lohse ended up tossing 7⅓ innings and allowing just two hits. He is the first Cardinals pitcher to throw that many innings and allow two or fewer hits on Opening Day since Ernie Broglio in 1963.

Before this game, Lohse’s longest no-hit bid was 5⅓ innings for the Minnesota Twins against the Detroit Tigers on April 3, 2003. This is the third straight season that a pitcher has thrown at least 6 innings before allowing a hit in his team’s opener. Josh Johnson went 6 innings before allowing a hit for the Marlins last year, and Shaun Marcum recorded one more out before surrendering a hit for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010.

Lohse’s success against the Marlins was a tribute to his command. Last season, he was second in the National League in called strike percentage, with 39.1 percent of his strikes being taken by the batter. He was nearly as sharp tonight, with 21 of his 56 strikes (37.5 percent) and two of his three strikeouts on called strikes.

Highest Called Strike Pct
2011 NL Starters

He was also successful in keeping the ball down. Last season opponents hit .213 when Lohse kept the ball down and .295 when the ball was middle or up. Tonight, the Marlins were 0-for-8 with two strikeouts on pitches in the lower third or below the strike zone.

When Mike Matheny pulled Lohse from the game in the eighth inning, it was the first pitching change of his career as a manager. Former Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa holds the major-league record with 12,236 career pitching changes.

Marlins’ starter Josh Johnson allowed 10 hits in a game for just the second time in his career. After allowing only one first-inning run in nine starts last season, he allowed two runs in the first inning against the Cardinals.

The Cardinals were the first defending World Series champion to win their opener since the Boston Red Sox in 2008. The last three champions had lost on Opening Day.