The right-hander looks to win his third straight start Thursday when he faces the Washington Nationals at Busch Stadium.After going 4-8 with a 6.55 ERA in 18 starts while trying to overcome a forearm strain last year, Lohse has bounced back nicely in 2011. That's nothing new for Lohse, who followed four straight losing seasons with Minnesota, Cincinnati and Philadelphia by going 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA in his first season with St. Louis in 2008.Lohse has lasted at least seven innings in each of his three starts including Friday, when he allowed two runs over 7 1/3 innings and recorded his 1,000th strikeout in an 11-2 win at Los Angeles."It is nice," he told the Cardinals' official website of the milestone. "You have to be around a while to do that, so that is pretty cool. It is a good feeling to be out there long enough to be able to do it."Lohse is 3-2 with a 5.95 ERA in eight starts against the Nationals, but has allowed only one earned run in 13 innings while winning his last two versus Washington at Busch.He will try to help the Cardinals (9-9) win their first home series after splitting Wednesday's doubleheader.Washington (9-8) scored six times off Jake Westbrook in the third inning en route to an 8-6 victory in the opener. The Cardinals, however, got three hits and two RBIs from Lance Berkman to help snap the Nationals' four-game winning streak with a 5-3 victory in the nightcap.St. Louis has won seven of 10.Berkman, who went 4 for 7 on the day, is batting .452 with 14 of his team-leading 15 RBIs coming in the last eight games."It's a good run for me personally and for the team. It seems like every time I come up there's somebody out there," said Berkman, who is batting .399 and was named the NL's player of the week Monday. "I was hopeful something like this would happen, that I'd get off to a good start and have something to build on."He is 10 for 21 with eight RBIs his last five games versus Washington.Albert Pujols went 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs in the first game, but 0 for 3 in the nightcap. Though Pujols has hit four of his five home runs over the last six games, he is batting a career-low .243.Pujols is hitting .316 with three doubles against Tom Gorzelanny (0-1, 5.56), who is slated to take the mound for the Nationals.The left-hander looks to build on his last outing when he gave up two runs in six innings of a 4-3, 10-inning win over Milwaukee on Friday.Gorzelanny is 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA in eight starts against the Cardinals, but 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA in three at St. Louis where he has not pitched since 2008 with Pittsburgh.Second baseman Danny Espinosa went 4 for 9 on Wednesday for the Nationals. Former Cardinal Rick Ankiel had three hits on the day and is 6 for 15 over his last four games.
Lance Berkman is 10-for-24 (.417) in his past six games entering Wednesday, and he has also historically pounded the Nationals franchise. In 65 career games against them prior to this series, Berkman has hit .346 with 33 extra-base hits (10 home runs).