On short leash, Lohse sees Game 4 slip away

On short leash, Lohse sees Game 4 slip away

On short leash, Lohse sees Game 4 slip away
ST. LOUIS -- Kyle Lohse had stretches of success, and moments when he appeared in command. But with little margin for error in the postseason, the veteran right-hander didn't execute enough quality pitches to work deep into the game.

So once again, the Cardinals endured another night where their starter exited before the sixth inning. The Brewers scratched out three runs against Lohse in 4 1/3 innings, and they went on to beat the Cards, 4-2, in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night at Busch Stadium.

The best-of-seven series is now even at 2-2 on a night that started out promising but turned sour for Lohse.

In the first three innings of Game 4, Lohse threw well, effectively mixing in his changeup. But after working with a two-run lead, he saw the game slip away in the fourth.

"I got off to a good start, but I just made a couple of pitches that I wish I couldn't have had back," the 33-year-old said.

In the fourth, Milwaukee scored twice to pull even. Prince Fielder doubled to open the inning, and he scored on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s RBI double. Yuniesky Betancourt added a run-scoring single in the inning.

In the fifth inning, Nyjer Morgan doubled down the left-field line, and Lohse's night ended after he retired Mark Kotsay on a ground ball to second.

Reliever Mitchell Boggs allowed a run-scoring single to Ryan Braun, with the run charged to Lohse.

"I thought his stuff was good," manager Tony La Russa said. "His delivery was good most of the time. And, you know, a couple of times that he wasn't sharp, good hitters got him."

Throughout the NLCS, the Cardinals' starters have been on a short leash. Lohse was no different. Chris Carpenter has the longest stint at five innings on Wednesday in Game 3.

Thursday was another day which the bullpen logged a lot of innings. The relievers picked up the remaining 4 2/3 innings, giving up one run.

In the series, St. Louis' starters have combined for 17 2/3 innings, while the relievers have worked 17 1/3 innings.

"I know that Tony is not going to let you get too deep if it looks like you're in trouble," Lohse said. "It was a tough night."

Game 4 matched a couple of veterans who entered the night not having won a playoff game. But Milwaukee's Randy Wolf ended his drought by collecting the victory.

In fact, among active pitchers, Wolf was previously tied with the Dodgers' Ted Lilly for making the most regular-season starts (342) without a postseason win. Lilly now tops the list.

As for second? That distinction goes to Lohse, who has 298 career starts.

The Cardinals' bullpen has been so reliable that La Russa doesn't hesitate to call.

"That's the way he's been doing it," Lohse said. "Our bullpen has been doing a good job. I don't think [La Russa] is going to let anything happen too much. I know that going in. I've just got to do a better job of keeping them off the board."

Lohse came into the game well-rested, as he last pitched in Game 1 of the NL Division Series against the Phillies on Oct. 1. Even though he didn't have the game experience to stay sharp, the veteran is not using the 11 days of rest as an excuse.

"I made quite a few good pitches, and then I didn't," Lohse said. "I'm not going to blame it on the layoff. We're professionals. We've got to go out there and get the job done. Tonight, I didn't do it."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.