St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday hits an RBI-single during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Florida Marlins on Thursday, May 5, 2011, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won 6-3. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
Third base umpire Bob Davidson tries to chase away a bird along the third base line between innings of a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Florida Marlins Thursday, May 5, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Untouchable in April, Marlins ace Josh Johnson was battered for five runs on Thursday in his first start of the month as the St. Louis Cardinals beat Florida 6-3.
Johnson allowed only 18 hits in 41 innings in April. The Cardinals went 8 for 25 against him, finishing with three straight singles as Johnson's ERA climbed to 1.68.
Jason Motte (1-0) had a strikeout and walk in the eighth and Eduardo Sanchez finished for his third save in three chances.
Johnson gave up three straight hits, including Holliday's RBI single in the first, only the second time all season he'd given up even one hit the first three innings. He also had a walk, but escaped with only one run allowed after Pujols was easily thrown out by center fielder Chris Coghlan trying to go to third on Holliday's hit.
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook was perfect for 4 2-3 innings and the Marlins didn't get the ball out of the infield until Mike Stanton flied out to right for the second out in the fifth. The next hitter, Greg Dobbs, was the first Florida batter to have a 1-0 count and then delivered the first hit.
Suddenly, Westbrook seemed vulnerable and the Marlins had four singles in a row, including RBIs by Omar Infante and Johnson, for a 2-1 lead. After needing 54 pitches to get 14 outs, Westbrook required 20 pitches to get the final out of the fifth.
Berkman's sacrifice fly, a drive to the wall in left, tied it for St. Louis in the sixth, but the Marlins regained the lead in the seventh when John Buck doubled off the center field wall and Infante followed with an RBI single.
Colby Rasmus drifted to the wall late on a ball that appeared catchable, and a no doubt frustrated Westbrook raced off the field and into the tunnel after Infante's hit.
Johnson walked three of the first 15 hitters, matching his career total covering 27 2-3 innings against the Cardinals entering the game.
Notes: Holliday has an 11-game hitting streak and leads the NL with a .411 average. ... Chris Carpenter's bases-loaded walk to Gaby Sanchez on Wednesday night was his first in 73 batters, according to STATS LLC. ... The Cardinals are 1-6 in Carpenter's starts. ... Ramirez is batting .153 (13 for 85) against right-handed pitchers. ... Dobbs left after grounding out in the seventh with a right ankle strain. He did a cartwheel of sorts eluding a tag at the plate to score Florida's first run in the fifth.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)