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STL@MIA: Guillen talks Marlins Opening Night loss

MIAMI -- Opening Night at Marlins Park was a smash hit in so many ways.

The evening was picturesque, and the roof was open, presenting a breathtaking view of downtown Miami.

As much as the night represented a new beginning for the Miami Marlins, the game itself belonged to St. Louis right-hander Kyle Lohse, who flirted with making history of his own.

Lohse held the Marlins hitless for six innings, while David Freese delivered a two-run single in the first inning as the Cardinals cruised to a 4-1 win in Wednesday's memorable season opener.

The only no-hitter on Opening Day in MLB history was turned in by Hall of Famer Bob Feller in 1940. In front of a national television audience on ESPN, Lohse gave it a shot.

With the Marlins starting their ace, Josh Johnson, the franchise envisioned a more fitting ending to the unveiling of their new park, which attracted a sellout of 36,601.

"It was awesome," Johnson said of the whole atmosphere. "I missed some of the stuff beforehand. But it was good for me, not in a baseball sense. It was good to get it out of the way. It was a crazy, crazy week.

"Actually, the last two or three weeks have been pretty crazy. You'd come down from Jupiter to here to do commercials and stuff. Hopefully we can start doing baseball stuff."

The buildup for the night was intense and unprecedented in South Florida, as the franchise rebranded to the Miami Marlins.

There was plenty of excitement, but not much Miami offense.

Lohse frustrated the Marlins, holding them hitless until Jose Reyes ripped a clean single to right field to open the seventh. The first hit came on Lohse's 74th pitch. By that point, the Cardinals had 10 hits and a three-run cushion.

"Opening Day, they throw a no-hitter, that's not going to look too good," said Reyes, who had two of Miami's four hits.

"There was a lot of excitement. We played with a lot of energy, but didn't get what we were looking for, and that was a win."

Prior to the eighth inning, the Marlins had a few hard-hit balls off Lohse with nothing to show for it. In the second, Giancarlo Stanton blasted a long drive to center that was flagged down by Jon Jay. Logan Morrison lined out hard to right and Gaby Sanchez lined to second.

"[Reyes] hit my curveball and rolled it through," Lohse said. "They hit a lot of balls better than that. That's the one that got through."

Stanton actually blasted two balls to deep center that may have left a number of ballparks, but not the new one in Miami, especially with the roof open.

"Stanton hit a couple balls today that I think are out of almost every park in baseball," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I was under the impression that they were going to shut the roof, but it was beautiful out and I think that added to the atmosphere."

The lone Marlins run came in the eighth inning on John Buck's two-out RBI double off Fernando Salas. The run was charged to Lohse.

Buck said the night itself was comfortable to play, but with the roof open, balls weren't carrying.

"I think it made the ballpark play a little bigger," Buck said. "Other than that, [the weather] felt great."

As Lohse excelled, Johnson labored in his first outing since May 16, 2011.

After missing more than half of last year with right shoulder inflammation, Johnson grinded his way through six innings, allowing three runs. The 10 hits he allowed matched his career high. The only other time he gave up that many hits was on Aug. 13, 2010, at Cincinnati.

"I battled," said Johnson, whose three Opening Day starts match Josh Beckett for a Marlins high. "I had terrible stuff all day. I tried to do everything I could to take the runs off the board."

Not only were hits scarce for the Marlins off Lohse, so were baserunners. The Cardinals right-hander retired the first 10 batters he faced before plunking Emilio Bonifacio on the left shin with a pitch with one out in the fourth.

There was plenty of pomp and pageantry before the game got under way. The pregame festivities finished with the appearance of a surprise guest, "The Greatest" Muhammad Ali.

The fanfare caused the first pitch to be pushed from 7:05 p.m. ET to 7:15, when Johnson threw a 93-mph fastball for a called strike to Rafael Furcal.

To honor the opening, Buck collected the first pitch and presented it to team owner Jeffrey Loria, who was sitting near the Miami dugout. Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and home-plate umpire Ed Rapuano were alerted previously.

"I didn't want to start running off and they grabbed me by the collar and said, 'Where are you going?'" Buck said. "The first pitch of the season, I figured [Furcal] would take that one."

From that point, the first inning was a rough one for Johnson, the two-time All-Star.

Carlos Beltran lined a one-out single to right, the first hit at the new stadium. And Lance Berkman's two-out double put runners on second and third. Freese picked up where he left off in the 2011 World Series by delivering a two-run single to left.

With all the festivities, it would have been easy for the Marlins to have been off rhythm. If so, Guillen doesn't want to hear about it.

"I'm not going to deny that it was a tough day, a fun day," Guillen said. "But if anybody said that, that's an excuse. What happened before the game had nothing to do with what happened during the game.

"I think it was a very unique, different Opening Day. Very special for everyone. I wish we played better. But I don't think we should make any excuses about all the stuff before the game."

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