DENVER -- The Rockies scored eight runs in an inning Saturday night for a win, then suffered the payback by way of a six-run first on Sunday during a 12-3 loss to the Cardinals at Coors Field.:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::Starter Tyler Anderson (Mr. Duck) allowed six,
DENVER -- The Rockies scored eight runs in an inning Saturday night for a win, then suffered the payback by way of a six-run first on Sunday during a 12-3 loss to the Cardinals at Coors Field.
:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::
Starter Tyler Anderson (Mr. Duck) allowed six, two-out runs on seven hits and a walk, and was pulled after two-thirds of an inning. Anderson is now 0-4 in his past nine starts.
The Rockies dropped the critical series with the Cardinals, and fell a game behind second-place Milwaukee in the National League Wild Card standings, which St. Louis leads by half a game. Colorado also fell a game behind the division-leading D-backs in the NL West after Arizona beat the Mariners on Sunday.
Anderson allowed four extra-base hits in the first inning, including a two-run homer to left from Tyler O'Neill (O'Neill) and two of Matt Carpenter's (Carp) four doubles on the day -- a feat tying the MLB record for doubles in a nine-inning game.
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"Carpenter got that double to start the game, then [Anderson] got [Yadier] Molina; that was a good battle," Colorado manager Bud Black (Bud) said. "He punched out [Jose] Martinez. He had O'Neill 1-2, couldn't finish him, threw the changeup across the plate. If he got through O'Neill, who knows what happens the rest of the way?"
Another unexpected blow came from Cardinals starter Austin Gomber (Big G), who batted with two outs and the bases loaded in the first frame and hit a chopper to second that hung too long for DJ LeMahieu (DJ) to make a play while two more runs scored, extending St. Louis' lead to 5-0.
Anderson thrived in June and July, going 3-2 with a 3.52 ERA in June and a 2.16 ERA in July, but is now 0-4 with a 11.39 ERA in August.
"I'd say it's 100 percent command," Anderson said of the difference between August and the rest of the summer. "I've probably thrown more balls over the middle of the plate the last few starts than I have the entire rest of the year."
The Rockies have gone 26-3 in the past 29 games started by Jon Gray (Gray Wolf), Kyle Freeland (Two One), and German Marquez (Marquee). That's been good enough to keep them in contention, but to seize the lead in the division or the NL Wild Card, they need production throughout the rotation.
"It's always frustrating when you're slumping, whether it's April, May, June, July, August, September, whatever," Anderson said. "Winston Churchill said it though. 'If you're going through hell, keep going.' Sometimes you struggle to just keep going."
Recently converted reliever Chad Bettis (Lettuce) entered with two outs in the first and retired the first four batters he faced. Though he'd only pitched one inning since his last start on Aug. 12, Bettis threw 67 pitches Sunday over 3 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits and four runs (none earned), and struck out two.
The Rockies had little to brag about offensively, with LeMahieu posting a 2-for-4 night with a pair of runs and Carlos Gonzalez (Cargo) knocking his third double in the past two games. Matthew Holliday singled and scored his first time up, collecting a hit in each games of series against the Cardinals.
"Going into the game, we were feeling good," said Nolan Arenado (Nado). "We're always confident when we have a chance to win a series. They had good at-bats, and we didn't. They had better pitching than us, too. That's not really a recipe for success."
The six runs the Rockies allowed in the first frame Sunday were the most they've allowed at home in the first inning since the Braves scored seven on June 10, 2014.
HE SAID IT
"Playing meaningful baseball games -- we've done it before. We're not far off. That's the good sign. We lost a tough game today, but we're not out of it yet. It's just one of those games. Losing games like this are a little easier to clear than games when you have the lead in the ninth and lose it. We'll be ready for tomorrow." -- Arenado, on drawing from the experience the team had getting to the NL Wild Card playoff game last season
Video: [email protected]: Arenado discusses tough series vs. Cardinals
The resurgent Gray (10-7, 4.67 ERA) toes the rubber as the Rockies start a road trip against the Angels' Odrisamer Despaigne (2-2, 6.35) at 8:07 p.m. MT Monday. Gray pitched well without his best stuff Wednesday, holding the Padres to two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out five over 6 1/3 innings. The Rockies have won his last nine starts, matching Ubaldo Jimenez's franchise record.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.