ST. LOUIS – Kyle Lohse responded to getting bumped in the rotation with a strong outing. He wasn't about to criticize manager Tony La Russa's decision.
"I've felt fine physically," Lohse said after working into the seventh inning in a 6-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night. "Tony's going to set the matchups the way he wants, and I'm ready whenever he wants me to be ready."
Albert Pujols followed up a 4-for-4 game with two hits and the go-ahead RBI, and David Freese had two hits and three RBIs, two of them in a five-run sixth that chased Aaron Cook (2-7). Matt Holliday returned after missing two games with a lower back injury and had an RBI double, while Lohse contributed his first Busch Stadium RBI in nearly two seasons.
Carlos Gonzalez hit his 17th home run for the Rockies, who have lost three in a row while mustering just four runs and are a season-worst 10 games below .500 (55-65). Colorado had only five hits for the second straight game and has scored only one run for Cook in his last three starts.
Cook made only his 12th start after being sidelined with a fractured finger, and manager Jim Tracy said he deserved better.
"He was aggressive, he was in the strike zone from the outside, he was throwing one ground ball after another," Tracy said. "It's unfortunate when you get down to it."
The Cardinals have won five straight over the Rockies at home, outscoring them 22-3.
Lohse (10-7) matched his victory total from the previous two seasons, both of them injury-plagued, and addressed doubts about his current health and durability that in part prompted the Cardinals to give him two extra days of rest. The right-hander allowed a run on four hits in 6 1-3 innings and threw 91 pitches, 17 more than any of his three previous appearances.
Lohse was sent home for tests for inflammation in the middle finger of his pitching hand after his start on July 24 at Pittsburgh and allowed eight runs in eight innings in his previous two starts. He reached double figures in victories for the first time since 2008 when he was a 15-game winner.
Ace Chris Carpenter jumped ahead of Lohse with regular rest and had a strong eight-inning outing in a 5-2 victory over NL Central-leading Milwaukee on Thursday night. The Brewers remained four games ahead of St. Louis.
Given the extra time, Lohse altered his delivery somewhat.
"I tweaked some things mechanically, dropped the arm slot a little bit just to see what happened," Lohse said. "And I came out with some good results."
Pujols singled in two of his first three at-bats and his one-hop smash that glanced off second baseman Mark Ellis' glove made it 2-1 with none out in the sixth. Holliday bounced a double over the head of third baseman Scott Nelson on the next pitch for a two-run cushion and Freese's two-run single made it 6-1.
Lohse had early success going after hitters, with first-pitch strikes to 11 of the first 12. That stretch was capped by Gonzalez's homer to straightaway center leading off the fourth to tie it at 1, and the Rockies loaded the bases on two walks and Todd Helton's double later in the inning before Cook popped out to shallow right.
Cook allowed a season-worst six runs in 5 2-3 innings and is 0-2 in August while surrendering 12 runs in 16 1-3 innings. He had no regrets about his work against the Cardinals.
"It's very frustrating, but I've got to try to just laugh this one off and realize I know I made the pitches I wanted to make," Cook said. "They were able to just find the holes to get the runs."
Gonzalez is 3 for 19 with two homers during the Rockies' trip.
Notes: Lohse's last RBI at home was Aug. 16, 2009, against the Padres. He has two RBIs this season to go with a .143 average (7 for 49). ... Holliday is a career .367 hitter (18 for 49) against the Rockies with three homers and seven RBIs. ... Freese is batting .390 (23 for 59) with runners in scoring position. ... Edgmer Escalona worked 2 1-3 scoreless innings of relief for the Rockies, allowing only a walk. ... Helton is batting .435 (10 for 23) against Lohse. ... Jason Hammel (6-11) takes the mound for the Rockies on Saturday against the Cardinals' Jaime Garcia (10-5). ... Lance Berkman has a seven-game hitting streak, going 11 for 25, and has hit in 18 of 20 games since the All-Star break. ... Yadier Molina was 0-for-3 with a sacrifice to end a 14-game hitting streak one shy of his career best.