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PIT@STL: Lohse earns 100th big league win

ST. LOUIS -- It wasn't one of the hottest days of the summer in St. Louis, but Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse certainly enjoyed the ice-water shower he received from his teammates after he won the 100th game of his career Sunday.

Lohse went five innings in the Cardinals' 7-4 victory over Pittsburgh.

"It means quite a lot," Lohse said. "I've been around for a while, and it is nice to get a round number like that and share it with these teammates."

It didn't look like there was going to be any celebration early in the game. Lohse, who had given up eight runs in three innings in his previous start against the Dodgers, gave up four runs and six hits in his first two innings against the Pirates.

"I was watching him close," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "It was a tough start for him, but the last three innings he pitched, he really pitched. He made a lot of really good pitches. He had a totally different demeanor. He just kept competing. The other day was just one of those days. Today, he never gave the appearance that he wasn't able to get the next batter out."

Lohse retired the final eight batters he faced, and left the game after throwing 99 pitches with the Cardinals ahead 5-4.

"I was ready to go back out, but after five innings I had thrown a lot of pitches," Lohse said. "I felt almost too strong in the early going. Then after I settled in, I started making my pitches."

Lohse could only watch as relievers Marc Rzepczynski, Kyle McClellan, Arthur Rhodes and Jason Motte finished off the game.

"[Lohse] got his secondary pitches in better spots," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We still had an opportunity or two and didn't convert. I thought throughout the series we had a pretty good game plan on their starters, but we weren't able to add on much after that. Their 'pen did the job and shut us down."

St. Louis catcher Gerald Laird was impressed with the way Lohse responded after the tough start.

"He's a veteran," Laird said. "You are going to get roughed up here and there. He showed today why he is where he's at. He gave us some quality innings and got us a 'W.' If you saw the first two innings and the final three, they were totally opposite."

Playing without Albert Pujols, who had a routine day off, the Cardinals got big contributions from Ryan Theriot, Skip Schumaker and David Freese, all of whom had two RBIs. Both of Freese's RBIs came after intentional walks to Lance Berkman. His hit in the seventh inning, a bloop just out of the reach of Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, came after he fouled off four full-count pitches. It drove in Matt Holliday, who had two doubles and two runs scored.

"That is exactly who he is, what he is," La Russa said of Freese's clutch hit. "When you are in a real clutch RBI situation, he's somebody you want up there. He definitely competes. He has a real nice stroke, and he fouled off some tough pitches and put a tough pitch in play. He's really good."

The effort of the Cardinals' bullpen was strong, as the four relievers combined to allow just three baserunners in the final four innings. Rzepczynski struck out three in the sixth inning, and Motte earned his first save of the season with a perfect ninth.

"The bullpen has struggled at times, but we got 12 outs out of the bullpen today," La Russa said. "Everybody who pitched was outstanding. Last year, [Motte] was used in the seventh and eighth innings a lot of times. The ninth is a different experience. I think this was his first save opportunity, and to go 1-2-3 was very impressive. He'll get what he earns. They all do."

And if that means the closer's role, that will be fine with Motte.

"In the bullpen, that is one of the things you strive to be," Motte said. "It's the guy you want to be in the bullpen. But whatever Tony says, we [do]. [Fernando] Salas has done a [solid] job. Today happened to be the day I pitched the ninth."

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