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Lohse, Cards top Marlins to open season

Apr 5, 2012 - 4:18 AM Miami, FL (Sports Network) - The St. Louis Cardinals started a season without three-time National League MVP Albert Pujols for the first time since 2000.

The reigning World Series champions didn't need him the way Kyle Lohse pitched, as the Cardinals christened Marlins Park with a 4-1 victory over Miami on Wednesday night.

The new-look Marlins, with a new manager, a revamped lineup and a sparkling new stadium, were mere bystanders as Lohse (1-0) held them hitless for the first six innings and allowed just one run over 7 1/3 frames.

David Freese, last year's World Series MVP, picked up where he left off with three hits, including a two-run single in the first inning to get St. Louis' title defense started on the right foot.

Rafael Furcal went 3-for-5 with an RBI, and Carlos Beltran, added after Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels, had two hits and scored a run for the victors.

Josh Johnson (0-1), making his third straight Opening Day start for the Marlins, was touched for three runs on 10 hits over six frames in defeat.

The matchup featured a first-year MLB manager in Mike Matheny for St. Louis and Ozzie Guillen in the other dugout.

Guillen spent eight years on the White Sox bench, guiding them to a World Series crown in 2005, and has been tasked with bringing the Marlins back to the postseason for the first time since their second World Series title in 2003.

But he was powerless with Lohse on the hill, as the veteran righty faced the minimum over six frames. The only runner he allowed at that point -- Emilio Bonifacio on a hit-by-pitch -- was quickly erased when Hanley Ramirez bounced into double play to end the fourth.

By then, the Cardinals were leading, 3-0.

"We've got to give credit to the people who played better than we did," Guillen said. "They got big hits, they pitched well. They made a couple of plays in the field, especially the outfield. They just beat us."

St. Louis silenced the capacity crowd at the new park in the first inning. Beltran singled with one out and moved to third when Lance Berkman legged out a double to the left-field gap. Freese plated both with a line drive single to left.

The Cardinals manufactured a run their next at-bat, as Daniel Descalso walked, advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Furcal's base hit to center.

Jose Reyes, the Marlins' key offseason signing, spoiled Lohse's no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the seventh, but the hosts went quietly thereafter, thanks in part to Jon Jay making a running grab at the warning track on a ball hit to right-center by Giancarlo Stanton.

"I'm not hugely superstitious," Lohse said of his no-hit bid. "I was talking to guys on the bench. They might have been trying to avoid me, but I wasn't going to let them."

Freese scored an insurance run in the eighth, leading off with a base hit off Ryan Webb, moving to third on Yadier Molina's double and later coming around on Descalso's groundout.

Matheny, who was hired after Tony La Russa retired following St. Louis' remarkable World Series run, pulled Lohse with one on and one out in the eighth, and John Buck knocked in the only Miami run with a two-bagger to center off Fernando Salas.

Though the Cardinals left runners on the corners in the ninth, Jason Motte worked around a leadoff single in the bottom half to pick up the save.

Game Notes

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali delivered the ceremonial first pitch to Ramirez. Ali was driven onto the field by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Ramirez took the ball from Ali's hand...Cleveland's Bob Feller is the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter on Opening Day, doing so on April 16, 1940, against the White Sox...Lohse allowed just two hits, did not issue and walk and struck out three. He got the Opening Day start because Chris Carpenter began the season on the disabled list...The Cardinals had 13 hits to Miami's four...St. Louis went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10...Guillen was the Marlins' third-base coach when they won the title in 2003...Johnson missed most of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury...Attendance: 36,601...Game time: 2:42.