04/02/08 12:58 AM ET
Lohse strong, Cardinals can't hold on
Bullpen surrenders two runs in the eighth inning
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
The Rockies rallied for two runs against the Cardinals bullpen in the eighth inning, giving Colorado a 2-1 win over St. Louis in the season opener for both teams Tuesday. One day earlier, Opening Day was rained out after 2 1/2 innings with the Cardinals leading, 5-1.
After seven shutout innings by starter Kyle Lohse and two relievers, Ryan Franklin was touched for two runs and took the loss, though neither tally was earned. The stumble ruined a successful Cardinals debut by Lohse as well as a home run from Yadier Molina.
"We got the loss," Molina said. "I don't care about the home run. It feels good for me, but for the team it doesn't."
Franklin got into trouble immediately in the eighth. Troy Tulowitzki singled to center to lead off the inning, and Todd Helton doubled into the corner in right to put men on second and third.
Tulowitzki was the first Colorado runner on third base since the first inning, and it was the first time in the game that the Rockies had two men on with fewer than two outs.
"I made a bad pitch to Tulowitzki," Franklin said. "I hung a slider to him. To Helton, I don't know. It was a good cutter, but I threw him two more before that. He just kept it fair."
The Cardinals nearly stemmed the tide even so. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to third base, and Troy Glaus' errant throw home allowed the tying run to score. Glaus had a chance to make the play, but his throw sailed well out of Molina's reach.
"Bad throw," Glaus said. "[If I make a] good throw, it's an easy play. We had a lead, and I blew it. I made a bad throw."
Franklin walked the bases loaded before he was relieved. Randy Flores came extremely close to escaping with the score still tied, striking out the first two batters he faced. But he walked Jayson Nix with two outs, bringing home the tiebreaking run and making Franklin the losing pitcher.
Lohse's Cardinals debut was thus squandered. Pitching in a regular-season game five days earlier than originally scheduled, the right-hander twirled five effective innings with three hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Three times, Lohse pitched with two men on base, and all three times he escaped unscathed.
Lohse had been scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Tuesday, then make his first regular-season appearance on Sunday. But the rainout turned Tuesday from an off-day into a game day, and Lohse was summoned to pitch to the National League champions rather than to Double-A hitters.
"I felt pretty good out there," Lohse said. "It's nice to get the first one out of the way. I felt like I threw the ball pretty well and kept us in there. It was a little more intense than a simulated game, that's for sure."
Former Cardinal Kip Wells likewise wriggled out of trouble in the third and fourth, but Molina took him deep to lead off the fifth. The catcher hit a rocket shot on a 2-1 pitch, 394 feet into the left-center-field stands.
That was all that Wells allowed, however. Looking like the pitcher who wowed the Cardinals last spring and very early in the 2007 season, he fired fastball after fastball and kept the ball low in the strike zone.
"He had good stuff tonight," Glaus said. "He kept the ball down. He had good command. He was throwing sinkers, cutters in the low to mid 90s [mph]. That's a tall order no matter what. I think we had some opportunities, but unfortunately we weren't able to capitalize and take advantage of a good start and a good night for our pitchers."
St. Louis native Kyle McClellan made his Major League debut in the sixth inning and showed exactly why he made the big league team out of Spring Training. Facing the heart of the Colorado order with a 1-0 lead, McClellan pitched a 1-2-3 inning, capping it by striking out Brad Hawpe with a biting slider on a 3-2 count.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.