ST. LOUIS (AP) – For the second straight night, long balls put the Colorado Rockies in an early hole.
They couldn’t quite overcome mistakes by Franklin Morales with a three-run, ninth-inning rally falling just short in a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.
“We fought back in the last inning against a tough reliever but I think there were some things we didn’t execute that in the end, we paid for,” manager Walt Weiss said.
Even with the comeback, the Rockies have mustered just seven runs during a five-game losing streak – all on the road. They entered the game batting .318 at home with 108 homers and .227 on the road with 60 homers.
Matt Holliday homered in the first inning for the second straight night and Shelby Miller pitched six solid innings and had an RBI double for St. Louis.
Matt Carpenter added a two-run homer in the second for the NL Central leaders, who have won 12 in a row at home in the final month of the season dating to last Sept. 14. Of their 10 runs in the first two games of this series, seven have come in the first two innings.
Michael Cuddyer had hits his first three trips and scored on Ben Paulsen’s single in the fourth. He doubled to start the sixth with the 3-4-5 hitters coming up, but didn’t advance.
“We needed to manufacture a run or two and we didn’t do it,” Weiss said. “We made a few mistakes and you’re not going to get away with those against a club like that.
“You’ve got to be opportunistic,” Weiss added.
The Cardinals are 9-4 this month and took a 3 1-2 game lead over Pittsburgh.
Wilin Rosario, Josh Rutledge and pinch-hitter Michael McKenry had an RBI apiece in the ninth and the Rockies put the tying run on second before Pat Neshek got pinch-hitter Rafael Ynoa to fly out for his sixth save in nine chances.
Miller (10-9) and Adam Wainwright, who won his 18th game Friday, combined for 13 strikeouts and no walks in 14 innings. Miller has allowed one run his last 20 innings over three starts, with a career-best 17 2-3 inning scoreless streak ending on Paulsen’s hit.
Randal Grichuk flied out to the wall in left field the at-bat before Holliday hit his 18th homer to straightaway center off Franklin Morales (6-8). Morales was one strike away from a perfect second when Pete Kozma walked on a full count, Miller followed with his fifth double and fourth RBI and Carpenter’s eighth homer made it 4-0.
“That was a big walk right there,” Weiss said. “In the end, it cost us.”
Morales worked six scoreless innings to beat the Padres in his last start and though he’s among the league leaders with 24 homers allowed had permitted just one his previous four outings. He needed 28 pitches to get through the first, with just one swing and miss, and gave up four runs in four innings.
“That’s tough, when you have your best stuff and you miss two pitches like I did,” Morales said. “I felt pretty good.”
Rockies: Justin Morneau did not start after straining a side muscle on Friday. He is day to day.
Cardinals: Michael Wacha has struggled to regain form from a shoulder injury that sidelined him nearly two months and will not start Sunday. The team is hoping a little rest will help the 23-year-old right-hander.
Rockies: Jordan Lyles (6-2, 4.20) won his first start since coming off the DL from a broken left hand on Aug. 6 but is 0-1 in six starts since then. He gave up a run on three hits with no decision his last start at New York against the Mets.
Cardinals: Rookie Marco Gonzales (2-2, 5.01) makes his fifth career start after backing up Wacha’s two abbreviated starts since coming off the DL.
– By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
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