Road woes con­tinue with loss in St. Louis

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pa­trick Saun­ders

ST. LOUIS» The Rock­ies have gone from road war­riors to road kill.

They lost 10-5 to St. Louis on Wed­nes­day night at steamy Busch Sta­dium, suf­fer­ing a three-game sweep as the Na­tional League wild-card race con­tin­ues to tighten, with the Brew­ers, not the Cubs, now in pur­suit of the Rock­ies. Colorado lost for the 16th time in its last 19 road games.

A ma­jor re­in­force­ment, how­ever, is on the way. The Rock­ies, know­ing they must bol­ster their sag­ging bullpen if they want to stay in the play­off hunt, an­nounced dur­ing the game that they had ac­quired all-star righthanded reliever Pat Neshek in a trade with Philadel­phia. In ex­change, the Rock­ies gave the Phillies three mi­nor-lea­guers: in­fielder Jose Gomez, right-handed pitcher J.D. Ham­mer and righthanded pitcher Ale­jan­dro Re­quena.

The club could cer­tainly use bullpen help, as ev­i­denced by Wed­nes­day’s loss. Right-han­der Jor­dan Lyles gave up two runs on five hits in two in­nings, his ERA climb­ing to 6.94. Usual starter Tyler Chat­wood, mak­ing his first relief ap­pear­ance since July 5, 2012 at St. Louis, gave up a run on one hit with two walks and two wild pitches in his in­ning of work.

En­ter­ing Wed­nes­day’s game, Colorado’s bullpen ranked 13th in the Na­tional League with a 4.53 ERA.

Over­all, it was an­other frus­trat­ing night at Busch Sta­dium for the Rock­ies, who have lost 22 of their last 27 games here.

Colorado starter Jeff Hoff­man was un­doubt­edly squeezed by home plate um­pire Mark Carl­son early on, and it seemed to af­fect the rookie’s per­for­mance. He failed to get a strike­out call on a checked swing in the first in­ning on Tommy Pham and ended up walk­ing him. That set up Paul DeJong’s two-run homer to deep cen­ter.

“This is the next step for our young pitch­ers. There is a school of hard knocks for young pitch­ers, but he’ll learn how to get out of an in­ning and min­i­mize the dam­age,” Rock­ies man­ager Bud Black said of Hoff­man. “But he’s grow­ing each and ev­ery time he pitches.”

The Car­di­nals’ five-run fourth in­ning was a messy af­fair. Yadier Molina and Ran­dal Grichuck opened with back-to-back sin­gles, and then Hoff­man walked Har­ri­son Bader on a 3-2 pitch. Ac­cord­ing to the game­cast graph­ics, Hoff­man should have logged a strike­out, but in­stead, he faced a no-out, bases-loaded night­mare. Four bat­ters later — in­clud­ing a slic­ing RBI sin­gle to right by pitcher Car­los Martinez and a mon­ster RBI dou­ble to right-cen­ter by Matt Car­pen­ter — the Rock­ies trailed 7-4.

“For the most part, I feel like I did a de­cent job of brush­ing it off and mov­ing on and try­ing to make the next pitch,” Hoff­man said af­ter be­ing asked if the strike zone af­fected him. “But I’m not go­ing to sit here and say it doesn’t af­fect the course of an in­ning, or how you go about your next move.”

Nolan Are­nado, mean­while, con­tin­ued to play like an MVP can­di­date. With a 2-for-3 evening, he’s bat­ting .313 with 23 homers and a ma­jor league-best 89 RBIs.

The third base­man put the Rock­ies on the board in the first with a two-run homer to left off Martinez.

Dilip Vish­wanat, Getty Im­ages

Rock­ies third base­man Nolan Are­nado con­tin­ued his MVP-like sea­son with a two-run homer Wed­nes­day and added an­other RBI later in the game. Now sit­ting at 89 RBIs for the sea­son, Are­nado is the league leader in that cat­e­gory.

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