Instead, the right-hander struggled with his command and allowed six runs over four innings in a 12-4 loss to the Dodgers in front of 44,876 at Dodger Stadium.
"It was just a tough game," Hawksworth said. "I never felt like I settled in by any means. I definitely left it all out there, so it wasn't a lack of effort. I did everything I could with my pitches, but sometimes you can't catch a break."
Hawksworth simply didn't have his best stuff, as he was tagged for seven hits and walked three batters. It marked his first start in the big leagues after making 48 career relief appearances, but Hawksworth insisted that the butterflies that come with starting a game didn't affect him.
"It's not easy, but at the same time, it's not an excuse," Hawksworth said. "It's still pitching. I just have to get better and I have to learn."
His troubles started early in the game, as he allowed two runs in the first inning on an RBI single by Matt Kemp and a run-scoring double play by Manny Ramirez with runners at first and third.
He settled down until the fourth inning, when he allowed the Dodgers to break out for four runs, including a two-run ground-rule double by Rafael Furcal after a successful squeeze play by A.J. Ellis.
"They had some soft balls hit but they had some hard ones, too," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of the Dodgers' offense. "It was rough night."
It was especially rough because Hawksworth came in with previous success against the Dodgers, as he entered with a 1-0 record and a 2.25 ERA against Los Angeles. But his lack of control was too much overcome, as only 36 of his 67 pitches went for strikes.
"He wasn't throwing strikes, getting the ball over the plate," Kemp said. "Nothing really different from last year otherwise, he just wasn't really throwing as many strikes as he did."
Reliever P.J. Walters, whom the Cardinals considered starting instead of Hawksworth, had his own struggles in the fifth inning, when he allowed four runs, including a three-run homer by Blake DeWitt off the right-field foul pole. Walters later gave up two more runs in the seventh coming on a sacrifice fly by DeWitt and an RBI double by Garret Anderson.
Overall, Walters had almost the exact pitching line as Hawksworth, as he allowed six runs on seven hits over four innings.
"They had the same kind of results," La Russa said. "There wasn't much we could do because we didn't have much going in."
Two of the Cardinals' runs came from Ryan Ludwick, who hit homers in the second and seventh innings.
Felipe Lopez drove home the other two with a single in the seventh off reliever Justin Miller, who relieved Dodgers right-hander Carlos Monasterios after he held the Cardinals in check by allowing three runs on only four hits over six-plus innings.
"He did a good job all night long," Cardinals center fielder Randy Winn said of Monasterios. "He was able to locate his sinker away and did a good job keeping us off-balance with his off-speed stuff. He had such a big difference in speed between the fastball and the off-speed stuff that it was tough to lay back. And when you thought he might throw something off-speed, he had enough on his fastball to sneak it by you."
One of the positives for the Cardinals, however, was that despite the blowout they saved their bullpen and used only Hawksworth and Walters. But La Russa was uninterested in finding a silver lining in the blowout loss.
"We got beat," La Russa said. "Tomorrow I'll look for the positives. I'm not pleased we got beat, 12-4, no matter what the circumstances are."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.