St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse (26) delivers in the first inning during a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Monday, Sept. 12, 2011, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) By Gene J. Puskar
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse runs during a practice session for baseball's National League championship series against the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) By David J. Phillip
St. Louis Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse (26) throws a pitch during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's National League division series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) By Matt Slocum
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — After notching his third win of the spring in the Cardinals' 4-3 victory over the New York Mets on Friday, Kyle Lohse said he's ready to make St. Louis' opening day start.
Lohse allowed only one unearned run on three hits while striking out seven in six innings. The right-hander also drove in a run.
"I felt good out there," said Lohse, whose next start will be the April 4 season opener at Miami. "It was a nice way to wrap up spring training, using all my pitches to get some good bad swings. Overall I felt strong."
Lohse attributed a renewed feel for his curve ball as a major factor in his effectiveness.
Earlier in the spring Lohse experimented with a new grip on the pitch. In recent weeks he's gone back to the old grip.
Two of his seven strikeouts on Monday came on curveballs.
"These last couple starts it's been a really good pitch for me," Lohse said.
The afternoon wasn't free of trepidation, though.
Omar Quintanilla's hard-hit grounder in the third inning one-hopped off Lohse's pitching hand. Lohse initially couldn't find the ball, and when he did the throw to first was not in time.
After the play the trainer came out to check on Lohse, who said he simply needed a few moments to let the tingling in his ring finger and pinkie subside.
Lohse was given an error — the second consecutive St. Louis error — making the run scored by Mike Nickeas on the play unearned.
"I'll take it," Lohse said with a laugh.
Lohse stayed in the game, allowing only one more hit and walking one through the final three innings.
"That was nice," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Lohse's final tune-up. "He looked good. He looked real good."
Trailing 1-0, the Cardinals took the lead for good in the fourth. Matt Carpenter smacked a one-out double, and came around to tie game on Yadier Molina's single. That's also the inning Lohse helped himself by poking an RBI single over first baseman Justin Turner's glove, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
Two innings later Carpenter struck again, launching Dillon Gee's first pitch over the left field wall, extending the Cardinals' lead to 3-1. The homer was Carpenter's second of the spring. St. Louis added a second run in the inning when Adam Melker, pinch hitting for Lohse, drove a ball off the top of the right field wall for a double that scored Bryan Anderson.
New York starter Dillion Gee took the loss after allowing 10 hits and four runs in six innings.
"Today was really weird," Gee said. "I felt awesome in the pen, felt pretty good in the first inning, then I kind of lost it after that. I feel like I was struggling and battling myself the whole game."
Jason Motte pitched around a one-out single to record his first save of the spring.
Matt Holliday had two hits for St. Louis, as did Vinny Ruttino for the Mets.
NOTES: New York told reliever Miguel Bautista that he's made the team but the 41-year-old right-hander has yet to be added to the Mets 40-man roster. "He's the one guy I know who is durable enough and he'll throw enough that if we need a spot start he can give it to us," Mets manager Terry Collins said. ... Mets CF Andres Torres (calf) went 1 for 5 with a single in a minor league game against the Cardinals, but did not play the field. Collins expected Torres to play at least one more minor league game and has not ruled out a DL stint for the center fielder to start the season. ...New York optioned right-hander Chris Schwinden to the minors. ...St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said the club has informed pitcher Victor Marte, Anderson and utility man Eugenio Velez they will start the season in the minors.