ST. LOUIS -- The lack of clutch hitting -- beyond Nolan Arenado -- sunk the Rockies on Monday night.Arenado's fifth-inning grand slam was the club's only hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Rockies paid for the lack of offensive support when Marcell Ozuna blasted a home
ST. LOUIS -- The lack of clutch hitting -- beyond Nolan Arenado -- sunk the Rockies on Monday night.
Arenado's fifth-inning grand slam was the club's only hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Rockies paid for the lack of offensive support when Marcell Ozuna blasted a home run to left-center with one out in the bottom of the 10th off lefty Jake McGee for a 5-4 victory at Busch Stadium.
Arenado's National League-leading 28th homer gave the Rockies a 4-0 lead in the fifth, but otherwise, the big hit didn't happen. Also, lefty starter Tyler Anderson sailed through six innings, but suddenly lost his control in the seventh. It was just the sixth loss in the Rockies' last 25 games, after they had won four straight at home.
"It's just one of those days -- we got a few hits [nine], not the timely ones," Arenado said. "We hit the ball hard. We're going to be all right.
"These games are going to happen. We just swept the A's. No one thought we were going to do that. Come out tomorrow. We've got three more games against them and hopefully we can take care of business against them."
In the end, Ozuna hit his 13th homer of the season -- and first career walk-off homer -- off McGee (1-4).
The Rockies and left-handed bullpen help have not yet been expressly linked with the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching Tuesday afternoon. They are hoping McGee (1-4) and Chris Rusin (currently on the 10-day disabled list with left foot plantar fasciitis) will seize the opportunity. McGee is in the first year of a three-year, $27 million contract, and Rusin was one of the National League's best relievers last season.
McGee's season has been up and down, to the point where he has been used just three times since the All-Star break. Between July 21 and Monday, he faced just one batter. But McGee found his fastball velocity when he fanned 10th-inning leadoff man Paul DeJong with pitches from 93 mph to 94.7. But with the count 1-1, he left a 92.7-mph fastball to Ozuna -- ticketed for inside -- over the plate.
"I just missed my spot in that situation," McGee said. "Gotta be a little more careful, especially with a home run hitter like that."
Rockies manager Bud Black said, "It was one pitch. He punched out the first guy and got a pitch by Ozuna, a good player. This kid's got power, he hits in the middle of the order, and he squared up a fastball."
The Rockies pushed runners to third base in the third and fourth innings with one out, but couldn't push a run across against Carlos Martinez. However, Martinez left after 4 2/3 innings -- and nine strikeouts -- with a right shoulder strain with two on and two out in the fifth.
Against reliever Daniel Poncedeleon, Ian Desmond drew a walk before Arenado sent an 0-1 fastball into the grass beyond the center-field wall for a 4-0 lead.
Anderson faced just three baserunners and gave up one run -- a Jedd Gyorko homer to lead off the fifth -- in the first six innings. It was in line with the Rockies' effective run of starting pitching, which featured a Majors-leading 2.86 ERA in games since June 28.
But Anderson led off the seventh with walks to Ozuna, Gyorko and Yairo Munoz.
"Just some timing was gone; I just wasn't making good pitches there," Anderson said. "I think I was in a pretty good spot. The pitch count was low. I was throwing a lot of strikes, throwing a lot of good pitches. It just got away there.
"I felt like I didn't know where the ball was going to go there. Kind of a weird thing."
The inning spun out of control quickly. Anderson finished at 88 pitches, so fatigue was not a factor. Black has seen Anderson pitch out of trouble at that point in earlier outings, but he noted that Anderson lost his release point suddenly and was throwing more sidearm than usual.
Anderson was charged with four runs, which made him the first Rockies starter in the last six games to yield more than two earned runs.
"You get to the point where you're trying so hard to throw a strike ... it sort of works against you -- the tension that might be created when you're trying to throw a strike, you body is not in sync," Black said.
Reliever Scott Oberg couldn't keep any of those inherited runners from scoring, thanks to Harrison Bader's one-out, bases-loaded walk and Matt Carpenter's two-out, two-run single on a 1-2 changeup. Seunghwan Oh, however, forced a Yadier Molina fly ball to keep the score tied.
Cards reliever Bud Norris escaped a runner at second with one out in the 9th by forcing grounders from Trevor Story -- who didn't start, but did pinch-hit -- and Charlie Blackmon. In the 10th, Dakota Hudson (1-0) fanned Tom Murphy to end the frame with two on.
Rookie Garrett Hampson, in his seventh game since being called up from Triple-A Albuquerque, started for Story at shortstop and delivered two hits, a walk and a stolen base. He reached scoring position twice -- by taking two bases on a wild pickoff by Martinez in the third, and on his first career stolen base in the ninth.
Rookie Ryan McMahon delivered a two-out single on Hudson's 3-0 pitch in the 10th. It was just the second hit on a 3-0 count for the Rockies this season. The team is just 2-for-5 when putting 3-0 pitches in play. Before Monday's game, Black complimented McMahon for being ready to swing consistently and not giving away strikes on "premeditated takes."
In two games since his return from Triple-A Albuquerque, righty Jon Gray (8-7, 5.16 ERA) is pitching like the guy who was the team's Opening Day starter the last two years. Since returning to the Majors, Gray has thrown 14 1/3 innings and given up three runs (two earned) on six hits, with 12 strikeouts against three walks. But Gray will have to conquer Busch Stadium, where he is 0-1 with an 11.88 ERA in two starts. The Cards will start righty Jack Flaherty (4-5, 3.28) on Tuesday with a 6:15 p.m. MT start.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.