Instead, he struck out Jacque Jones lunging at an outside changeup. He caught Derrek Lee looking. And then, he got Michael Barrett on a fly to right to end the sixth inning.
What could have been a game- turning rally was instead a defining moment for Lohse.
The right-hander struck out a career-high 12 in eight innings, outpitching Ted Lilly to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
"That's a big confidence boost when you can face that part of the lineup with men on first and third and no outs and get the two strikeouts," Lohse said. "That's what we need right there to come through in that situation."
Lohse (1-0) allowed four hits and one walk. Three of those hits were by Ryan Theriot, but the Cubs couldn't muster much else against Lohse. Jeff Conine's RBI single in the fourth turned out to be enough for the Reds.
Chicago wasted another solid outing by Lilly (1-1), who allowed a run and two hits while striking out 10 and walking one in six innings. It was his ninth game with 10 or more strikeouts and his first since June 10 with Toronto.
David Weathers got two outs for his fifth save in five chances. With one out and a man on, Barrett hit Weathers' 3-2 pitch deep down the left-field line, but it hooked just foul. Barrett flied out to right on the next pitch.
Lilly, who held Cincinnati to a run in seven innings in a win on April 4, walked Brandon Phillips leading off the fourth. And after Phillips stole second and Josh Hamilton struck out, Conine drove in Phillips with a single to left.
Conine stole second, but Ken Griffey Jr. struck out. So did Edwin Encarnacion on a high and tight pitch that plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled nicked his bat.
"I've had three starts and we're not winning a lot of games," said Lilly, who signed with the Cubs for four years and $40 million in the offseason. "It's nice to go out there and throw the ball well, but the objective is to win games."
The Cubs are 4-7 after losing for the fifth time in six games - certainly not what they anticipated after spending about $300 million on a roster makeover in the offseason.
"What have I seen? What have you all seen?" manager Lou Piniella asked afterward. "You ask me like I'm the only eyes in this room. What have you all seen?"
Told his opinion is the one that matters, Piniella smiled and said, "Oh, mine's the one that matters. We've got to get better at it, obviously."
The Cubs threatened in the sixth, when Alfonso Soriano led off with a double down the left-field line and moved to third on a single to center by Theriot. But Lohse retired the middle of the order.
"That was huge for me right there," Lohse said. "You can't give up a run. Soriano did a good piece of hitting and Theriot - I can't get him out. ... But pitching around those situations and coming up with some big strikeouts was huge for me."
For the Cubs, it was a rough ending to a weekend that started on a sour note.
They lost 6-5 on Friday, after Cincinnati scored six in the fifth inning against ace Carlos Zambrano and reliever Will Ohman. Rich Hill and two relievers combined on a 7-0 shutout Saturday. But a day later, Lohse shut down the Cubs.
"For our ballclub to come in here and score in two innings and win two out of three, that's pretty good," manager Jerry Narron said. "That's getting it done."
ST. LOUIS - Albert Pujols broke out of an April drought with two home runs and five RBIs, and Chris Duncan was 4- for-5 with a homer for the Cardinals.
Pujols, who entered the game batting .158 with two RBIs, has 17 career multihomer games.
Converted reliever Braden Looper was effective in his third straight start for the Cardinals, whose first home victory since beating the Tigers in Game 5 of the World Series came against Brewers ace Ben Sheets.
Looper (2-1) has won two of his first three major league starts after making 572 consecutive relief appearances. He allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. He added his first career RBI on an infield chopper.
Sheets (1-2) gave up eight runs, seven earned, and eight hits in five-plus innings. The Brewers had won three in a row on the road.
ATLANTA - Chipper Jones hit a three-run homer and Andruw Jones added a two-run shot to back Tim Hudson's strong pitching in Atlanta's victory over Florida.
It was the third home run in four games for Chipper Jones, who has seven RBIs during that stretch. His drive in the third inning off Scott Olsen (2-1) capped a five-run inning. Andruw Jones hit his third of season in the fifth off Rick Vanden Hurk.
Hudson (2-0), who is 102-17 when his team scores at least four runs, allowed one run and six hits in seven innings. The right-hander, who is 5-0 against the Marlins, was helped by three double plays.
Hudson has allowed only two earned runs in three starts and has an ERA of 0.86.
PHOENIX - Tony Clark homered twice and drove in three runs, leading Arizona over Colorado.
It was the 22nd multihomer game for the 34-year-old Clark, one of many major leaguers who wore No. 42 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's major league debut.
Orlando Hudson, another player who wore No. 42, went 2-for-3 for Arizona for his eighth multihit game this season. He pushed his average to .412.
Todd Helton hit his first home run for the Rockies, a solo shot.
Jose Valverde walked two in the ninth before striking out Jeff Baker for his sixth save in seven chances.
The Diamondbacks jumped on Byung-Hyun Kim (1-2) for four runs in the first inning after the Rockies had scored a pair off Doug Davis (1-1), who allowed four runs, nine hits and four walks in five innings.