Are­nado’s web gem not enough to lift Colorado, whose of­fense takes night off

CAR­DI­NALS 8, ROCK­IES 2

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pa­trick Saun­ders

ST. LOUIS» Nolan Are­nado showed a na­tional TV au­di­ence on ESPN a lit­tle Golden Nolan magic Mon­day night at Busch Sta­dium.

The Rock­ies’ four-time Gold Glove third base­man went hor­i­zon­tal to make a div­ing catch on Kolten Wong’s line drive to end the first in­ning. The play pre­vented St. Louis from mak­ing its two-run in­ning into some­thing much big­ger. The Car­di­nals’ base­ball­savvy fans even gave Are­nado a nice ova­tion.

But it was mostly down­hill — in a hurry — from there for the Rock­ies in an 8-2 loss.

Starter Antonio Sen­za­tela was gone af­ter just four in­nings, hav­ing al­lowed four runs on six hits. His fast­ball com­mand, some­thing man­ager Bud Black has preached that Sen­za­tela must re­gain, was lack­ing again.

“Any­time you walk the first two guys and your pitch count el­e­vates to 40-plus in the first in­ning, you’re re­ally swim­ming up­stream,” Black said. “He just couldn’t re­ally get it to­gether. He had the three strike­outs in the sec­ond in­ning that sort of got him a lit­tle back on track. But over­all, I think you could tell that he wasn’t re­ally com­mand­ing the fast­ball.”

The Rock­ies’ of­fense, which had cranked out 74 runs over a 6-1 stretch (that’s 10.6 runs per game, folks) was smoth­ered by St. Louis right-han­der Mike Leake (7-8). He al­lowed no runs on four hits over seven in­nings. Leake struck out six and didn’t walk a bat­ter.

Colorado avoided be­ing shut out when Pat Valaika slugged a two-run homer in the eighth off re­liever Zach Duke. It was Valaika’s third pinch-hit homer this sea­son, a Rock­ies rookie record. “Patty Bar­rels,” as some have taken to call­ing him, is 13-for-33 (.394) with a dou­ble and 11 RBIs as a pinch hit­ter. Those 11 pinch-hit RBIs tie Valaika with Jim Ta­tum (1993) for the fran­chise rookie record.

“Im­pres­sive. I’m so happy for Pat. That’s a tough role,” Black said. “The tough­est role on the team is to be asked to come in and pinch hit and pro­duce. And he’s do­ing it.”

Sen­za­tela, a rookie right-han­der, got off to an­other shaky start, giv­ing up two quick runs and now owns an 8.47 first-in­ning ERA. His over­all ERA is 4.84.

“That’s hap­pened to me the last cou­ple of games,” Sen­za­tela said. “I just have to get ready for the next game. I have to make qual­ity pitches.”

Sen­za­tela (10-4) walked Dex­ter Fowler and Tommy Pham right out of the gate, and paid the price when Paul DeJong rapped an RBI sin­gle. The Car­di­nals scored their sec­ond run when Jedd Gy­orko grounded into a dou­ble play, al­low­ing Pham to score.

Ran­dal Grichuk’s two-run homer in the fourth put the Car­di­nals in front 4-0. Wong hit a dou­ble to right and jogged home on Grichuk’s 13th homer. Grichuk clob­bered Sen­za­tela’s 2-1, 91.5 mph, cen­ter-cut fast­ball over the Car­di­nals’ bullpen be­yond right field. It was his fourth con­sec­u­tive game with a home run.

Long re­liever Chris Rusin, who has been mostly re­li­able this sea­son, got torched in the sev­enth when the Car­di­nals cinched up the vic­tory. Pinch-hit­ter Jose Martinez hit a solo homer to left, and Pham en­cored with a homer to right.

Dilip Vish­wanat, Getty Im­ages

Rock­ies third base­man Nolan Are­nado at­tempts to field a ground­ball by Tommy Pham against the St. Louis Car­di­nals dur­ing the fifth in­ning Mon­day night at Busch Sta­dium. Pham reached base on a sin­gle.

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