Albert Pujols hit a monstrous homer during a
four-run first inning, helping the Cardinals to a 6-2 victory over the Rockies
in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Yadier Molina finished with three hits and two RBI for St. Louis, which got a
strong effort from several relievers to close its homestand with a victory and
a 3-3 mark.
Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson (2-1) was pulled with one out in the sixth
inning because of cramping in his right hamstring. He allowed two runs on
eight hits and three walks, and departed the game with two runners on base.
However, Jason Motte got St. Louis out of the inning, and Octavio Dotel struck
out two to strand the bases loaded in the seventh. Dotel faced five total
batters and struck out four of them.
Colorado certainly had opportunities, but went just 1-for-8 with runners in
scoring position and stranded nine on base. Mark Ellis homered and Troy
Tulowitzki hit an RBI single in the first inning, but the Rockies didn't score
again and lost their 17th consecutive Sunday game.
Judging by the top half of the first inning, it seemed like Colorado would
snap that streak.
Ellis was the second batter up and jumped on a first-pitch fastball, hitting
it over the left field wall for a 1-0 lead. Carlos Gonzalez followed with a
ground-rule double to left and scored on Tulowitzki's base hit, and Todd
Helton kept the rally going with a walk.
After Seth Smith popped out, Ty Wigginton walked to end a nine-pitch plate
appearance, load the bases and prompt a coaching visit to the mound.
However, Jackson got out of the jam by striking out Chris Iannetta. Despite
throwing 37 pitches and facing eight batters, he had allowed only two runs --
a deficit Pujols erased in the bottom half.
With Rafael Furcal on base and one out, Pujols got a 1-0 fastball near the
knees and toward the inside half of the zone, and crushed it to left field.
The ball sailed over the seats and bounced around in the concourse.
"That's an Albert home run," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "He hit
that ball on the line with the underspin, it wasn't one of those fly balls.
That ball was really struck perfectly.
Matt Holliday walked before consecutive two-out doubles by David Freese and
Molina made it a 4-2 game.
Those were the only runs given up by Rockies starter Esmil Rogers (6-2) in
five innings, but they were enough.
Jackson kept his team in the lead thanks to double-play grounders in the
second, third and fourth innings. But he gave up one-out singles to Todd
Helton and Smith in the sixth, and left the game after throwing three balls to
However, Motte saved the inning for St. Louis, getting Wigginton to fly out
and Iannetta to ground out.
The Rockies had another chance to score in the seventh, putting two on base
with one out against Kyle McClellan. Veteran Arthur Rhodes was then summoned
from the bullpen for his first appearance since the Cardinals signed him last
Thursday, and walked Gonzalez.
The walk loaded the bases for the heart of the Rockies' lineup. However, Dotel
fanned Tulowitzki before freezing Helton on a third-strike breaking ball to
end the threat.
"It's kind of how it's been," Tulowitzki said. "We haven't gotten the big hit
when we need it. But I'd love to be up in that big situation. Sometimes you
come through, sometimes you don't."
It was a back-breaking failure for Colorado. Molina and Skip Schumaker singled
in runs in the bottom half to push the Cardinals' lead to four, and Dotel and
Fernando Salas closed the game over the final two innings.
Rockies third base coach Rich Dauer suffered a broken nose during batting
practice, when he was hit by a throw from infielder Chris Nelson, according to
MLB.com. He was taken to a hospital for tests and returned to the clubhouse
during the game...Rogers walked seven, gave up six hits and struck out
five...The Cardinals went 3-for-7 with RISP and stranded 10...Pujols' homer
was his 29th of the season...Colorado won its first two Sunday games of the