Lohse won for the first time since injuring his forearm more than 2½ months ago, working six effective innings in a 4-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
"I'd love to be a part of that," Lohse said. "It's been a while since I could get in that groove when I know I'm going to go out there and give us six-plus. We get all of us going, it's going to be hard to stop."
Colby Rasmus drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth off Kip Wells (0-3) for the go-ahead run and Matt Holliday, Khalil Greene and Brendan Ryan hit balls off the wall in a two-run sixth. The NL Central leaders have won four in a row, and at 63-51 are a season-high 12 games above .500.
"It's not quite the home stretch but we're getting close," Ryan said. "We want to take advantage of every opportunity we can out there. We just want to accumulate wins."
Reds starter Johnny Cueto injured his left hip running out a grounder in the top of the third and left the game. A team spokesman said Cueto, who allowed a run in two innings, will be evaluated Tuesday.
Cueto said through an interpreter that his hip was a little tight when the game began and worsened when he started pitching.
"I think I'm going to be all right, I just didn't want to risk anything," Cueto said. "It shouldn't be a problem."
Lohse (5-7) won for the first time in six starts since coming off the 15-day disabled list on July 12, limiting the Reds to a run and four hits. He didn't issue a walk and won for the first time since being struck on the arm while squaring to bunt by Kansas City reliever Ron Mahay on May 23.
"It just felt good to get out there and get things rolling again," Lohse said. "Now it's just a matter of locking what I felt today, lock that in."
Lohse had been 0-3 with a 5.84 ERA since coming off the DL. He lost two previous starts this season to the Reds, for whom he pitched in 2006 and 2007.
Wells replaced Cueto and retired the first seven batters in his first appearance in 10 days since being recalled from Triple-A Louisville, and first in the majors since June 23, with the Nationals. Then he lost the plate with three walks in the fifth, the last with the bases loaded to the free-swinging rookie Rasmus, to put the Cardinals ahead 2-1.
"I just tried to go after them, be aggressive, throw strikes," Wells said. "Obviously, I lost some command but I just got tired and just lost the ability to regroup."
Albert Pujols, who has an NL record-tying five grand slams this season, failed to capitalize on his latest chance with a routine flyout against Jared Burton to end the inning. Pujols is 8 for 11 with the bases loaded with five homers and 27 RBI.
Reds center fielder Willy Taveras slammed face-first into the wall chasing Holliday's line-drive triple leading off the sixth, staying in the game after receiving medical attention. RBI doubles by Greene and Ryan off the wall in left and left-center gave the Cardinals a 4-1 lead.
More than enough with the Reds going 0 for 10 with runners on base.
- Joey Jocketty, son of Reds GM Walt Jocketty, was drafted in the 47th round by the Cubs but is set to enroll at Miami of Ohio later this month and walk on with the baseball team.
- The Reds have allowed 97 first-inning runs, most in the majors.
- Wells threw 27 pitches in the fifth, nine strikes.
- Pujols booted Joey Votto's grounder in the sixth for his ninth error at 1B, his highest total since he had 14 in 2005.
- Greene has an RBI in three straight games.
- Lohse is 5-3 with a 2.81 ERA at home and 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA on the road.