Cardinals spoil Marlins' stadium debut

Reigning champions from St Louis dash Miami's hopes for first-game win at new ballpark in baseball season-opener.

    Cardinals spoil Marlins' stadium debut
    Josh Johnson, Miami's starring pitcher, gave up three runs on 10 hits in six innings [Reuters]

    For the World Series-winning St Louis Cardinals, the official opening day of the Major League Baseball season proved to be a good one as they claimed a 4-1 victory over the Miami Marlins.

    Wednesday's game, which marked the begining of the regular season on North American soil, was the Marlins' first at their new stadium.

    Following a two-game series between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics last week in Tokyo that officially opened the 2012 season, the Cardinals picked up where they left off with a brilliant pitching performance by Kyle Lohse and more timely hitting by World Series MVP David Freese.

    Lohse pitched six innings of no-hit ball before Jose Reyes singled to lead off the seventh inning.

    The right-hander went seven and one-third innings, giving up just one run on two hits with no walks in registering the win.

    Jason Motte pitched the ninth for the save, striking out Giancarlo Stanton on a tumbling slider to end it.

    Miami ace Josh Johnson gave up three runs on 10 hits in six innings and took the loss.

    Freese, who batted .348 including a walk-off home run in the 11th inning of their Game Six win over the Texas Rangers in the Fall Classic, went three-for-five with two runs batted in and scored another to lead a 13-hit attack by St Louis.

    Seven more major league teams will play their home openers on Thursday.

    Once the umpire called "Play Ball" it the Cardinal's offense quickly put an end to the celebrations, including a fireworks display and an appearance by iconic boxing legend Muhammad Ali, for the opening of Miami's new ballpark.

    A single by Carlos Beltran was followed by a two-out double from Lance Berkman that put men on second and third in the first inning off starter Johnson.

    Freese came through with a single to left field that gave St Louis a 2-0 lead.

    Rafael Furcal, who also had three hits, stroked a run-scoring single to center in the second inning to make it 3-0, and Freese crossed the plate in the eighth on Daniel Descalso's ground out to make it 4-0.

    Lohse, changing speeds and pinpointing his pitches, retired the first 10 batters he faced before hitting Bonafacio with a pitch in the left leg with one out in the fourth.

    The Cardinals right-hander then promptly got Hanley Ramirez to bounce into a double play to end the inning.

    He set down the next six Miami batters in succession before Reyes broke up the no-hit bid leading off the seventh with a sharp ground single to right.

    Lohse said he started thinking about a possible no-hitter after five innings.

    "I just felt good, our defence played well behind me," said Lohse, who was bidding to join Cleveland Indians fireballer Bob Feller (in 1940) as the second pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter on Opening Day.

    "I was just getting ahead of guys."

    A run-scoring double to right-center by John Buck off reliever Fernando Salas in the bottom of the eighth scored Omar Infante for Miami's only run.

    The win came in Mike Matheny's first game as St Louis manager since taking over from the retired Tony La Russa.

    "We're happy we got Mike Matheny his first win," said Freese. "We're excited about that."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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