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Lohse sharp in start for Cardinals

Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse pitched six innings of one-hit baseball during Monday’s spring training game with the Braves in Jupiter, Fla.

Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse pitched six innings of one-hit baseball during Monday’s spring training game with the Braves in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by The Associated Press.

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Kyle Lohse was so efficient he became the first member of the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation to work six innings this spring — without coming close to his pitch limit.

The right-hander gave another indication he’s back in form following two seasons of forearm woes, allowing one hit in six shutout innings of a 1-1 tie against the Atlanta Braves that was called after 10 innings Monday.

“If I can do that for the whole year, that would be fine with me,” Lohse said. “I didn’t feel like I lost anything towards the end and that’s what we’re shooting for.

“It’s fun to get quick outs, that’s the name of the game.”

Mike Minor was just as impressive in his bid for the fifth spot in Atlanta’s rotation, thanking teammate Derek Lowe for some pointers.

“He’s watching all my bullpens and trying to tweak a couple things here and there,” Minor said. “Things I can’t see for myself and other people haven’t seen. Real small things, but it’s made a big difference.”

Matt Holliday hit his second home run of the spring for the Cardinals. Atlanta managed only two hits and scored its lone run on a botched relay by shortstop Ryan Theriot in the seventh.

Lohse needed only 61 pitches, 43 of them strikes, to get through his strongest outing of the spring. He finished shy of his anticipated 70-75 pitch workload. After winning 15 games in 2008, Lohse has totaled 10 victories while struggling with control since being hit by a pitch in the forearm in May 2009.

In three spring starts, he’s allowed two runs and eight hits in 13 innings. He’s the only Cardinals starter who hasn’t walked anyone.

“I’m not asking for sympathy, but it was kind of like an unfair battle,” Lohse said. “If it makes you mentally stronger to have to go through something like that, then so be it. But it’s a lot more fun when you have all your pitches and your health.”

The 23-year-old Minor, competing with Brandon Beachy and Rodrigo Lopez, was often overpowering while allowing two hits in five scoreless innings. He faced the Cardinals in a “B” game in his previous outing and allowed a run in four innings.

“He just won himself a job,” the Cardinals’ Skip Schumaker said.

Beachy also worked five scoreless innings in a “B” game earlier Monday, allowing two hits on 77 pitches. Minor was watching, stretching his legs after getting off the bus.

“He looked really good. The ball was coming out really nice,” Minor said.

Holliday homered off Kenshin Kawakami with one out in the sixth and doubled in the first. Kawakami made an outstanding defensive play in the seventh, stabbing Matt Carpenter’s drive right at him for the second out with runners on second and third.

Lohse was helped by several nice defensive plays, including Holliday’s running catch in left on Nate McLouth’s sinking liner and third baseman David Freese’s grab of Chipper Jones’ liner on consecutive at-bats to end the third.

Minor escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second after Holliday’s leadoff double and a pair of walks when Lohse flied out to center. Holliday’s liner to left-center was perhaps misplayed a bit by converted left fielder Martin Prado.

“I threw better than I felt, I guess,” Minor said. “Early on, I had a lot of high strikes, up at the belt, and was lucky to get them in. Later on, I was getting a little bit better.”

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