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Cards chip away, outlast Rockies

2014-06-25T21:30:00Z 2014-07-03T15:22:01Z Cards chip away, outlast RockiesBy Derrick Goold dgoold@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8285 stltoday.com

DENVER • The steady drumbeat of the Cardinals' offense proved enough to overcome the one, jagged inning rookie Marco Gonzales had in his major-league debut.

The Rockies tagged Gonzales for five runs in the fourth inning.

The Cardinals tagged the Rockies with runs in five different innings.

The latter proved the winning recipe as the Cardinals took a 9-6 victory Wednesday afternoon at Coors Field. The Cardinals got RBI doubles in the top of the eighth inning to take the lead, and two sacrifice flies in the ninth inning extended it for closer Trevor Rosenthal. The Cardinals' closer finished the win with a four-out save.

Rosenthal walked two batters to bring the tying run to the plate in Troy Tulowitzki. The All-Start shortstop and closer dueled for 11 pitches. Twice Rosenthal touched 100 mph with his fastball during the at-bat. Once, Tulowitzki fouled it off. The next time he swung and missed.

That effectively decided the game.

Rosenthal threw a season-high 41 pitches to get his 23rd save.

The Cardinals had four sacrifice flies in a game for the first time since 1980.

Gonzales pitched five innings and allowed five runs on seven hits. The Colorado native struck out three and walked two, and he had enough time to commute back to his hometown of Fort Collins, Colo., and return to Coors Field as the game took a sluggish turn with his departure. He worked briskly through his first three innings and retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced. All five runs off him came in the fourth inning which featured nine batters coming to the plate, 30 pitches, and three extra-base hits, including a solo homer by Drew Stubbs.

The Cardinals chipped away at the Rockies' 5-1 lead with three runs in the top of the fifth.

They scored one in the top of the seventh.

Then the tandem twos came in the final two innings.

Matt Adams, who had his first multi-homer game of the season earlier in this series, was at the nexus of several rallies. He hit his ninth home run of the season in the fifth inning to pull the Cardinals closer. He singled to open the ninth, and he stole second to draw an errant throw. Two errors by the Rockies in the inning put a runner on third base each time, and that runner scored on a sacrifice fly each time.

The win gives the Cardinals the series victory. They are unbeaten in seven consecutive series, if the Royals' series in Kansas City counts as a stand-alone series and not fused together by the home-and-home interleague series baseball has scheduled.

The road trip only gets trickier from here.

The Cardinals will travel to Los Angeles and San Francisco for the next seven games, and three of the next five games will be against pitchers who have thrown no-hitters this season. Josh Beckett had one earlier this year against Philadelphia, and he starts Thursday against the Cardinals. Clayton Kershaw will make his first home start Sunday since he tossed a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium earlier this month. Tim Lincecum fired a no-no against San Diego today and he'll start Tuesday against the Cardinals in San Francisco.

***

Descalso, Carpenter send Cards to lead in eighth

Slow and steady doesn't always win the race but it has been one way to win at Coors Field.

The Cardinals pecked, pecked, pecked away at the Rockies lead before finally overtaking them in the top of the eighth inning with a couple runs and a couple key RBI doubles. Pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso delivered one on a hit-and-run with Mark Ellis that sent the infielder wheeling around second and third on Descalso's bloop double just inside the left-field line.

Descalso then scored on Carpenter's two-out double off Troy Tulowitzki's glove that squirted into center field.

TheCardinals have scored in four innings to answer the five runs the Rockies got in the fourth inning and tack-on run they got off the Cardinals' bullpen in the sixth inning.

The Cardinals threated almost every inning after the fourth but didn't pull into a tie or ahead until the eighth inning.

Ellis was going from first on a hit-and-run when Descalso lifted a pitch from Adam Ottavino down the left-field line. The ball dropped just inside the line and Ellis never stopped. The throw home and the runner arrived at nearly the same time but Ellis got his hand swiped across the plate before Willin Rosario applied the tag.

Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless seventh inning. The Cardinals are going to Sam Freeman in the eighth inning to hold the lead.

***

Adams' homer draws Cards closer to Colorado

When Matt Adams arrived in Denver a few days ago, he had already started a power movement with three homers in the home stand and a fresh split-shift assignment as the Cardinals' No. 3 hitter.

He did not have a homer, however, against a lefty.

He leaves Coors Field with at least two of them.

Adams lifted a two-run home run off lefty Yohan Flande that closed the separation in this afternoon's game against the Colorado Rockies. The Cardinals trail 5-4 as both teams go into their bullpen midway through the sixth inning. Adams' ninth home run of the season came with two outs and capped a three-run rally by the Cardinals in the top of the fifth inning.

Rookie Marco Gonzales remains in position to lose the game because the Cardinals were unable to tie the score.

Gonzales allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks through his five innings of work. He started well with two strikeouts in his first inning and a third later in the game, but the fourth inning proved problematic. It took him 35 pitches to get the first nine outs of the game. It took him 30 pitches just to survive the fourth inning.

Flande is also out of the game after throwing five innings. The Cardinals elevated his pitch count to 96 five innings.

Flande allowed four runs on six hits and one walk.

***

Gonzales' double helps Cards score, but Rockies answer

There was a time, as a youth and Colorado Rockies fans, that young Marco Gonzales attended a game at Coors Field and watched until the dramatic end when Matt Holliday hit a walk-off home run for the home team.

Gonzales was just driven home by Holliday.

Some day at the ballpark for the rookie.

Gonzales became the first Cardinals' pitcher to double in his first at-bat since Dan Haren did. Gonzales stung a leadoff double to the gap in the third inning. The John Olerud Award-winner in 2013 as the nation's best two-way player, Gonzales then scored from third on Holliday's RBI single. Gonzales gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead as he sped through the Rockies lineup the first time seeing it.

Before the Rockies had a hit, Gonzales had two souvenirs:

  • the ball from his first strikeout
  • the ball from his first big-league hit

The Rockies did not fall for the changeup as much the second time through the order. Drew Stubbs jumped one for a solo home run that has tied the score, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The Rockies have two runners on still in the inning and they have had two extra-base rips against the rookie in the the past four batters. That number would swell to three extra-base hits in the inning, and the Rockies would vault ahead, 5-1.

Gonzales got through the Rockies' lineup without allowing a hit in the first three innings. Of his first 27 pitches, 22 were strikes. He walked the No. 8 hitter in the third inning before promptly retiring the other rookie making his debut today, Yohan Flande. It was during the second time through the order that Gonzales struggled.

That changeup started straying up in the zone. He walked another batter. The same hitters he had retired in order the first time through the lineup pelted him with five hits before had a second out in the fourth inning.

Flande had an RBI groundout to score the Rockies' fifth run.

The Rockies sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth inning.

***

Gonzales flaunts changeup in scoreless first inning

It's a pitch that he said has been his best friend for 16 years and it's a pitch that he could roll out of bed and throw with confidence.

Ask Troy Tulowitzki.

To finish the first inning of his major-league career, Cardinals lefty Marco Gonzales just threw the MVP-caliber shortstop three consecutive changeups. Tulowitzki looked uncomfortable fishing after all three. They came into the strike zone at about 80 mph, and then they vanished, leaving Tulowitzki to flail at the disappearing pitch.

Gonzales retired the first three batters he faced in his major-league debut, and he did so with two strikeouts.

He got his first big-league K from Drew Stubbs who took a 92-mph fastball for a called strike three after seeing a changeup that he couldn't catch. That K came on Gonzales' 10th pitch of his career in the majors, and the ball was tossed to the Cardinals' dugout for safe-keeping.

The game is tied 0-0 as both rookies held the opponent scoreless.

The Cardinals offered a bit more resistance to Rockies lefty Yohan Flande, who is also making his big-league debut this afternoon at Coors Field. Jhonny Peralta, installed as the cleanup hitter today, doubled down the left-field line to put the Cardinals' chance in motion. It ended when Yadier Molina grounded out to end the inning.

Check back here at this blog throughout the afternoon for coverage of the game and news and notes and analysis from Gonzales debut.

Derrick Goold covers the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for The Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @dgoold or on Facebook at Facebook.com/BirdLandPD

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Cardinal Beat

Baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel cover the Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch and STLtoday.com. They'll provide daily Cardinals updates here, from the start of spring training through the end of the season and beyond.

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