DENVER -- The Rockies and Cardinals came into the Friday's opener in a tie atop the National League Wild Card standings. Both were riding hot streaks, winning eight of their last 10, and the showdown could be critical in determining postseason contenders.For the sixth time in seven games the Rockies
DENVER -- The Rockies and Cardinals came into the Friday's opener in a tie atop the National League Wild Card standings. Both were riding hot streaks, winning eight of their last 10, and the showdown could be critical in determining postseason contenders.
For the sixth time in seven games the Rockies fell behind early, but coming into Friday, they'd only lost once in five games facing an early deficit. The Cardinals slammed the breaks on that pattern, handing Colorado a 7-5 defeat to move ahead in the Wild Card standings and leave Colorado one game behind the National League West-leading D-backs.
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On the surface, Friday's loss looked like a bust-out game for the Rockies' underachieving offense. They scored five runs on 15 hits, but left 13 men on base and were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
"We didn't have that big hit that puts you back on track," Carlos Gonzalez (CarGo) said. "They made good pitches when they needed, so we weren't able to put some more runs on the board. I don't think you can win a lot of ball games when you have a lot of guys on base and you don't come through. One-for-12 is not a good night offensively."
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The offense fared better than the starting pitching, however. Antonio Senzatela (Senze) lost his touch at Coors Field, allowing seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. Prior to Friday, Senzatela had two home starts, allowing one earned run in 12 2/3 innings for a 0.71 ERA at Coors Field as a starter this season.
"My secondary stuff wasn't consistent," Senzatela said. "I tried to battle with my fastball, but I made mistakes and paid the price for it. I tried to locate my fastball down in the zone and get ground balls, but I left it flat in the zone quite a bit, and I gotta give them credit, they took advantage of it."
Senzatela cruised through a 1-2-3 first inning, but yielded four runs on three hits and a walk in the second. The rally was bookended by homers, with Tyler O'Neill (O'Neill) hitting a leadoff blast into the left-field bleachers. The gut punch came from Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas (Mik), who homered with two outs -- his second long ball of the season.
"You gotta use all your pitches," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "It's tough to win with one pitch. The fastball had some velocity to it. He beat some bats at times. But there were probably too many mistakes. We just couldn't really string any pitches together all night. The first inning was good, and from there it was a little bit of a struggle."
The Cardinals added three runs in the fifth, when Senzatela allowed two singles and two doubles while recording only one out before yielding to reliever Chris Rusin (Russ).
The Rockies answered in the fifth, with pinch-hitter Matthew Holliday (Holliday) leading off the inning with his first hit as a Rockie in nearly 10 years. Charlie Blackmon (Chuck Nazty) followed with a 423-foot blast to right. Nolan Arenado (Nado) hit one out to left for his 31st homer of the season, and Gonzalez singled to right, advanced to third on a Trevor Story (Trev) single to left and scored when Ian Desmond (Dez) grounded into a fielder's choice. Desmond went to third when second baseman Kolten Wong made an errant throw trying to complete a double play and scored when Ryan McMahon (McDoogle) singled to center to cap the five-run rally.
"It was a big inning for us," Story said. "A lot of big at-bats back to back. A lot of hits. We felt like we put ourselves back in the game, but unfortunately we weren't able to scratch any more after that."
Colorado tried to rally in the eighth, with pinch-hitter DJ LeMahieu (DJ) drawing a walk and Blackmon singling to left. Reliever Jordan Hicks (Hicks) walked Arenado to load the bases with two outs, but the comeback fizzled as Gonzalez grounded out to second to end the inning.
The Rockies bullpen held the Cardinals scoreless over the final 4 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit and an intentional walk.
"I'm sensing that our bullpen's coming together," Black said. "We're going to need all those guys, from Chad [Bettis] (Lettuce) to [Wade] Davis (Wader) to [Bryan] Shaw (Geek) to [Jake] McGee (MacCheez), all of them -- Otto [Adam Ottavino] (AO), [Seunghwan] Oh (오승환). [Scott] Oberg (Obie) did a nice job tonight. For us to get where we want to be they all got to pitch well, and the guys we used tonight did a nice job."
The Rockies made one more stand in the ninth, when McMahon doubled to left off Bud Norris (Budman) for his career-high third hit of the game. He advanced on a wild pitch before Chris Iannetta (CI) walked to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in LeMahieu, who grounded out to second to pull the plug on Colorado's comeback effort.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bettis threw a big shutdown inning in the sixth, retiring the top of the Cardinals order on three straight groundouts to second, third, and short. The Rockies scored five runs a half-inning earlier, and Bettis' effort was crucial. He kept the momentum on the Rockies' side after they trimmed a seven-run deficit to climb within two. And it was Bettis' first appearance out of the 'pen in more than four years.
"It was exhilarating," Bettis said. "I felt like I got trusted there with a big situation and the game within reach. It was really fun. It felt like a long time since I've had that kind of adrenaline rush. That was a good stepping stone. Something to build off of."
• Holliday played his 700th game as a Rockie, becoming the 12th player in franchise history to cross the 700-game threshold.
• David Dahl's (Baby Dahl) two hits gave him multiple-hit games in four of his last five games. He is hitting .421 (8-for-19) in that stretch.
HE SAID IT
"The game got ugly, but we didn't give up. We scored five that inning, so that puts you back in the game. You just try to keep pushing and hope to hold those guys. That's exactly what we did, but they also pitched well. Their bullpen came in and shut us down. Tough loss, but try to show up tomorrow and try to win a ball game." -- Gonzalez, on making a close game of it after being down 7-0 early
German Marquez (Marquee) gets the call for the middle game of the weekend series with the Cardinals on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. MT. Marquez has won six of seven games when pitching into the seventh inning this season. In his last two starts, he beat the Astros and Braves -- two first-place teams -- allowing three runs in 14 innings on eight hits and three walks while striking out 12. The Cards will send John Gant (Gant) to the hill.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.