The right-hander was 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA after beating Arizona on May 9. He looked unbeatable.
And while he's been good at times since then, Lohse simply hadn't had the same command on the mound. He allowed 15 earned runs over his next four starts, taking no-decisions in each one.
That was until his last outing against the Mets on Monday. Lohse showed signs of his early-season form, as he kept Mets hitters off balance with his offspeed pitches and allowed only one run on two hits in six innings of yet another no-decision. The Cardinals (30-29) hope Lohse (5-1, 3.21 ERA) continues to pitch like an ace when he takes the mound against the Indians on Saturday night in the second game of a three-game Interleague series at Busch Stadium.
Lohse has been stuck at 5-1 since May 9, in part because the bullpen has cost him a win in three of his last four starts. Still, though, Lohse is feeling better about himself on the mound, and it's showing.
"I had a pretty good mix going," he said of his last start against the Mets. "I really had a pretty good curveball. Not that I haven't had it, I just hadn't used it. We used it quite a bit to give lefties a different look."
Cleveland (31-26) will counter with Justin Masterson, its reeling Opening Day starter. Like Lohse, Masterson has had good moments this season, but he's been far too inconsistent for the Indians. It's usually one bad inning that dooms Masterson, who is 2-5 with a 5.09 ERA. His last win came on May 24, when he outdueled Detroit ace Justin Verlander.
While Masterson has had his share of bad outings, he's also been a bad-luck loser on a couple of occasions -- including in his last start against the Twins. Masterson posted a quality start last Sunday when he allowed three runs over six innings, but he took the loss as the Indians fell, 6-3.
If recent play is any indication, though, Masterson may get more help than usual. The Indians have scored 25 runs in the four games since the right-hander's last start, including six in their win over the Cardinals on Friday night.
Indians: Brantley extends hitting streak to 16 games
Center fielder Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the fourth inning on Friday. Brantley has done a little bit of everything during the streak, including hitting his first home run of the season Wednesday at Detroit.
Manager Manny Acta hasn't been surprised by Brantley's recent success.
"He never changes his approach," Acta said. "He gives us quality at-bats all the time, that's what we like about him. He stays even-keel, even when things aren't going well, and continues to work. But right now he's hitting righties, lefties, everybody."
Brantley's hot hitting has come at a time when the Indians need it the most. Designated hitter Travis Hafner is on the disabled list, and Cleveland has also been without catcher Carlos Santana and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera at times in the last couple of weeks.
Johnny Damon's seventh-inning home run Friday night was his second of the season. Both homers have come since May 27, and both on the road.
Cardinals: Garcia out for at least four weeks
Starting pitcher Jaime Garcia will miss at least the next four weeks with an impingement in his left shoulder. A second opinion Friday confirmed what the Cardinals' medical staff had initially found.
Garcia, who is 3-4 with a 4.48 ERA this season, is not expected to need surgery, but will need at least four weeks of shoulder therapy. He will seek a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews on Monday.
"It's not too unusual when you have your shoulder that's bothering you, and then you put more pressure on your elbow," said Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak. "We are reading what he tells us."
Right-hander Joe Kelly will make his Major League debut for the Cardinals on Sunday.
Friday's loss to the Indians was the Cardinals' 10th in their last 15 games. They are in third place in the National League Central, three games behind first-place Cincinnati.
Lohse is 7-15 with a 5.78 ERA in 28 career Interleague starts.
Former Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is in St. Louis for the weekend to watch his son, Shelley, who plays for the Indians.
Cabrera is 9-for-30 (.300) with five RBIs in seven games during June.