ST. LOUIS (AP) - Carlos Zambrano absorbed a rare loss in St. Louis. The Miami Marlins pitcher wasn't about to blame it on the scalding temperatures.
``Yeah, it was hot,' Zambrano said after working five innings in 106-degree heat of a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. ``I come from Venezuela, so it doesn't affect me.'
Even after giving up all three runs, Zambrano (4-7) still has the best ERA among all active pitchers at seven-year-old Busch Stadium. He's 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA, well ahead of the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia at 2.58.
Overall, the big right-hander is 7-2 with a 1.51 ERA in St. Louis, all of the wins coming with the Cubs.
``I know I've pitched good,' said Zambrano, who threw 102 pitches. ``I didn't know it was the first loss. There's always a first time and unfortunately it was today.'
Kyle Lohse (9-2) worked seven innings of three-hit ball to beat Miami for the third time, the past two against Zambrano.
Tony Cruz hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the fourth for the Cardinals, who have won five of seven and snapped the Marlins' three-game winning streak. Allen Craig had three hits and Skip Schumaker added an RBI single in the fourth for the Cardinals.
Zambrano was happy with his location on the pitch Cruz hit to the opposite field for his first career triple.
``You have to give them credit, they hit a lot of bloopers but they were hits,' Zambrano said. ``I made my pitches, I did everything possible to keep the game close.'
The Marlins' lone All-Star, Giancarlo Stanton, will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Sunday in Miami and could be sidelined a month or longer.
But Zambrano was optimistic about the team's chances. Stanton lasted just two innings before leaving with right knee soreness, the injury that kept him out four straight starts.
The loss was just the third in 10 games for Florida, which expects to get outfielder Emilio Bonafacio (sprained thumb) back from the 15-day disabled list the first game back after the break.
``So the team is going to be good,' Zambrano said. ``We're looking forward to having a very strong second half. We can do it. It's not over yet.'
The temperature was the highest on record in St. Louis for a game since the team began tracking the statistic in 1988. Earlier in the homestand, there were two 103-degree days.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said before the game that he didn't want any of his players complaining about the heat.
``We looked like it when we were at the plate,' Guillen said. ``They could be doing worse things than playing baseball. Everybody knows it's hot.'
David Freese was hit by a pitch twice, walked and singled to reach base safely in all four trips for St. Louis.
Justin Ruggiano hit a two-run home run for the Marlins, who missed a chance to climb back to .500.
Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Lee, the top three in the Miami lineup, were a combined 0 for 11 with a walk and are 1 for 22 with two walks the first two games of a three-game set heading into the All-Star break.
Lohse (9-2) is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in three starts against Miami, allowing nine hits in 21 2-3 innings, and found his stride after Ruggiano's homer with one out in the third. The Marlins had two base runners the last five innings on a walk and a fielding error by Craig at first that was wiped clean when Reyes was caught flat-footed, getting picked off to end the fifth.
Lohse has won his past three starts overall and has worked seven or more innings six straight times. He threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 26 hitters.
Jason Motte allowed a pair of two-out singles in the ninth before getting Donovan Solano to foul out to end it for his 20th save.
Stanton singled to start the second and with one out Ruggiano hit his sixth homer, a drive to left-center to put the Marlins ahead. Ruggiano has 18 hits during a 10-game hitting streak.
The Cardinals stranded four runners the first three innings before getting to Zambrano in the fourth with the first four batters reaching safely. Schumaker hit an RBI single and scored when Cruz followed with an opposite-field drive into the right field corner that scooted past Ruggiano's attempt to cut off the ball.
Cruz has started the past two games in place of All-Star Yadier Molina, who returned to Puerto Rico on bereavement leave following the death of his wife's grandfather. The triple was the first of his career.
Marlins reliever Wade LeBlanc struck out the Cardinals' 3-4-5 hitters in the seventh and allowed one hit in three scoreless innings.
NOTES: Zambrano has hit eight batters, among the league leaders. ... Matt Holliday has hit in 10 straight after singling in the fifth. ... Lohse has allowed a homer in each of his past four starts. ... Carlos Beltran didn't get the ball out of the infield in three at_bats against Zambrano and is 4 for 27 overall against the right-hander. ... The Cardinals are 11-28 when their opponent scores first.
The Associated Press News Service
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