DENVER (AP)—Todd Wellemeyer thought he could live with being a reliever.
But now that he’s gotten a taste of starting, life won’t be the same for him.
“I’m liking starting,” Wellemeyer said.
Wellemeyer earned a victory in his first major league start, Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds hit consecutive homers in the fifth, and St. Louis beat Colorado 8-4 Wednesday night to end the Rockies’ seven-game winning streak.
Wellemeyer can now be added to the list of relievers the Cardinals have successfully converted into starters this season. St. Louis has turned Braden Looper, Brad Thompson and Adam Wainwright into winning starters in 2007.
Wellemeyer had 119 career relief appearances before his first start.
“That was impressive as well as the Rockies are playing,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Wellemeyer knows he has things to work on—like a windup. Wellemeyer (1-0) worked out of the stretch from the first pitch. The 28-year-old righty, claimed off waivers by St. Louis on May 15, lasted five innings, giving up seven hits and three runs.
“It’s been almost two years (since I threw from the windup),” he said. “I’m going to start throwing it on the side.”
Wellemeyer also had his second career hit, an RBI single in the fifth.
“I’m loving hitting,” he said. “I’m liking some more at-bats.”
The heart of the Cardinals’ lineup—Pujols, Edmonds and Scott Rolen—broke out in a big way. The trio went a combined 7-for-14 with two homers, two doubles, a triple and six RBIs.
“When those three guys hit, we have a chance to score a lot of runs,” La Russa said.
The Cardinals hit back-to-back homers for the first time this season. Pujols drove a three-run homer off Jason Hirsh to left-center field—his ninth of the season—and Edmonds hit the next pitch to right for his fifth. The Cardinals tied a season high with five runs in the fifth inning.
“They have a good offense,” said Matt Holliday, who had three hits, including his 10th homer of the season. “Albert, Scott and Jim—those guys have been great for a long time. Those kinds of things are going to happen. You just keep playing.”
Rolen finished with two RBI doubles and Edmonds was 3-for-5 with a triple and single and two runs scored. The win ended St. Louis’ seven-game road losing streak.
The Rockies were attempting to win eight in a row for the first time since Aug. 26-Sept. 2, 1997.
But they’re not dwelling on the streak that was halted.
“We need to try to keep playing good baseball,” said Holliday, who leads the majors in three-hit games with 10.
Brad Hawpe hit a solo homer to right in the second inning. Hawpe has hit three homers in as many nights and has eight this season. He also drove a pitch from Tyler Johnson deep to right with two on in the eighth, but Ryan Ludwick caught it with his back to the wall.
Johnson gave up a homer to Hawpe the night before. La Russa said he didn’t bring in Johnson for a rematch.
“I think (Hawpe) has struggled with lefties and Tyler gets lefties out,” La Russa explained.
Hirsh (2-5) was pulled after 4 2-3 innings and giving up eight runs. He allowed a career-high 10 hits.
“I didn’t have my good stuff,” Hirsh said. “I couldn’t find my command for anything.”
While the heart of the St. Louis order may have broken out Wednesday night, Edmonds said it’s going to take a lot more games like this to pronounce them back.
“We haven’t swung the bats well this year,” Edmonds said. “So we’ve gotten off to a slow start, and we’ve got a lot of making up to do.”
The Cardinals found out Wednesday that catcher Yadier Molina will be sidelined four to six weeks with a fractured left wrist. The team placed Molina on the 15-day disabled list and purchased the contract of catcher Brian Esposito from Triple-A Memphis.
Molina left Tuesday’s game in the fourth inning after being hit by a foul tip an inning earlier. Gary Bennett will get a bulk of the work.
“We can win with him catching,” La Russa said.
And another converted reliever as a starting pitcher.
“Anytime you can get a win in your first start, it’s good,” Wellemeyer said.
St. Louis SS David Eckstein missed his third straight game with back spasms. … St. Louis INF Chris Duncan’s knee showed improvement, but he was left behind at the hotel for a second day. … Cards INF Adam Kennedy was intentionally walked twice for the first time in his career. … OF Jeff Baker snapped an 0-for-8 slump with a pinch-hit RBI double in the eighth.