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Cardinals vs. Nationals: Kyle Lohse can advance St. Louis again with win Thursday

Kyle Lohse, winner of the St. Louis Cardinals' Wild Card play-in game, can push them into the NLCS with a win over the Washington Nationals Thursday.

Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Kyle Lohse wasn't supposed to be the ace of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012. He wasn't even supposed to be in their rotation in 2011. But he was and now he is, and for the second time in a row the soon-to-be free agent has the chance to move the Cardinals on to the next round; he's their starter for Game 4, as they try to push the advantage they've obtained over the last two games.

After a brutal Game 1 loss, the Cardinals won Games 2 and 3 in convincing fashion, outscoring the Nationals by a combined 20-4. Were it not for a badly timed Pete Kozma error, the Cardinals would have already advanced. Now they'll have two chances to eliminate the NL East-winning Nationals.

Against Lohse—who just missed a quality start his last time out—the Nationals send left-hander Ross Detwiler, a former top prospect who threw his first full MLB season in 2012. He finished it with an ERA of 3.40, but his low strikeout rate suggests he's reachable. Of course, if the Cardinals' offense looks even half as strong as it has over the last two games, anybody's reachable.