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Hush falls over Marlins Park; Cardinals crash opening-day party

MIAMI -- The sellout crowd in the Miami Marlins' new ballpark cheered the introduction of their starters, who were accompanied by women dressed as Latin showgirls. There was another roar for Muhammad Ali, who delivered the first pitch.

Then Kyle Lohse and the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals went to work, and the place grew quiet Wednesday night.

Lohse held Miami hitless until the seventh inning and pitched into the eighth to help the Cardinals win the first game in Marlins Park, 4-1.

The Marlins' new animated home-run sculpture never budged. It was the fourth inning before they even managed a baserunner, and by the time they scored in the eighth, they trailed 4-0.

"It's a good ballpark for a pitcher, obviously," Lohse said. "It's pretty hard to get it out."

New Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was asked if the team's new home is a pitcher's park.

"For Lohse, yes," Guillen said. "But it's too early to say how the ballpark is going to play."

The crowd of 36,601 included newly retired Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who quietly rooted for his former team from the press box. He watched Lohse retire the first 10 batters before hitting Emilio Bonifacio with a pitch. The runner was erased when Hanley Ramirez grounded into a double play.

Newcomer Jose Reyes singled for Miami's first hit to start the seventh, and Omar Infante scored the Marlins' run in the eighth on John Buck's double. Lohse went 7 1/3 innings, allowing only two hits and one run.

David Freese, the World Series MVP, had a two-run single in the first inning to give Lohse the cushion he needed. Freese and Rafael Furcal each had three of the Cardinals' 13 hits.

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Around the horn

*A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press that the New York Mets have agreed to a $25.5 million, five-year contract with 25-year-old, left-handed pitcher Jonathon Niese, the team's first major move since resolving the lawsuit by the trustee in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. Niese was 11-11 with a 4.40 ERA last season.

*Andy Pettitte threw a scoreless inning in his first game since ending a one-year retirement, as the Yankees closed the exhibition slate with an 8-3 win over the Mets.

*Cleveland locked up All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera with a three-year deal worth about $21 million.

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