Ten hits, five earned runs, and two home runs. Solid hitting statistics for any team during a game, let alone trying to keep pace in their own division.
These were the numbers the Cardinals offense managed to muster, even if it was against Zach Duke. With these hitting numbers, St. Louis defeated Pittsburgh in 6-0 on Friday.
At the very least, it kept them within shouting distance of the Cubs and Brewers as the Cardinals try to keep pace before the All-Star break.
Rick Ankiel led the offense by going 3-for-3 with three RBI that included his 20th home run of the season. In the very essence of what it means to be clutch, all of Ankiel's RBI came with two out.
Not to be outdone, his fellow outfielder Ryan Ludwick added his 19th home run to justify his first All-Star appearance. Catcher Yadier Molina joined the offense by hitting 2-for-5 with two RBI, and Albert Pujols continued his amazing consistent play with yet another multi-hit game.
The only black mark against St. Louis' offense was that they again left 10 runners on base. It's not the first time it has happened and I'm fairly confident manager Tony LaRussa is not happy about it. However, it was an solid hitting performance overall.
On the mound for the Redbirds was Kyle Lohse. He pitched an incredibly efficient game with seven shutout innings with six hits while striking out three batters. Lohse has quickly established himself as the Cardinals ace as the recent collapse of Mark Mulder proved he no longer could be of any effectiveness.
Lohse is quite possibly the answer to what all of the recent deals the Cubs and Brewers have made. He now owns a record of 11-2, which is only two wins behind the National League leader.
He is not a strikeout power pitcher, but Lohse has the stamina of a Roy Halladay and the precision of a Greg Maddux. Even if he is not an All-Star, he remains the one pitcher that has kept the Cardinals rotation from completely breaking.
Essentially, he is the glue the has bonded the pitching staff where Todd Wellemeyer, Braden Looper, Brad Thompson, and Mike Parisi have failed. The Cardinals have shown they can hit with the best in the NL.
The next step is for another pitcher to rise from the ashes and compliment Lohse on the mound.
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